Iranian political prisoner Vahid Sayadi Nasiri

By Staff Writer

Iranian political prisoner Vahid Sayadi Nasiri has died after 60 days on hunger strike in protest to the denial of his rights and the inhumane conditions he was kept in. Iran Human Rights Monitor (HRM) reported.

Sayadi Nasiri, who went on hunger strike on October 13, was being held with ordinary criminals on a high-security section in Qom Prison while awaiting trial and, according to his sister Elaheh, he wanted to be moved to Evin Prison and housed with political prisoners.

Shorty after his hunger strike began, Sayadi Nasiri a 28-year-old real estate specialist, was found guilty in a ten-minute trial, but his lawyer Mohammad Najafi was not allowed to represent him.

One friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In his last phone contact in late November, he didn’t have the strength to talk. He said he didn’t understand why the authorities were bent on keeping him there [in Langroud Prison] and insisted that he was determined to sacrifice his life. I begged him to break his strike but he refused. He said… ‘I will either get my demands or leave my corpse for the Intelligence Ministry.’”

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, which is governed by President Hassan Rouhani, is one of the leading violators of human rights in Iran and responsible for the arrest of a significant number of activists, students, minority community leaders and human rights defenders.

Arrests and Attacks

Sayadi Nasiri was arrested in September 2015 and sentenced to eight years in prison for “insulting [the] supreme leader” and “propaganda against the state”, based off of posts he’d made on Facebook. He was repeatedly harassed by operatives linked to the Iranian regime whilst in prison and even attacked by a fanatic Shia prisoner who threatened to kill him in May 2017.

Sayadi Nasiri began another hunger strike shortly after the attack to protest the undetermined status of his case and was released in March 2018. However, the Intelligence Department of Qom arrested him again in August 2018.

The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) condemned the Iranian authorities for leaving prisoners no other choice but to go on hunger strike in pursuit of their rights; something that CHRI’s executive director Hadi Ghaemi has called a “growing crisis”, warning that more deaths will follow.

He said: “People are locked up for expressing their views, they are denied counsel and all other due process rights, lawyers are imprisoned for trying to defend them, and prisoners are dying from hunger strikes in a desperate attempt to draw attention to this crisis.”

Other hunger strikers of concern are Farhad Meysami, who was arrested in July for peacefully supporting protests against forced hijab, and Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was arrested for advocating for human rights in Iran.