Friday , 2 June 2023

“Big Injustice:” Hunger-Striking Frenchman Held In “Inhuman” Conditions In Iran, Sister Says

Iranwire – French national Benjamin Brière, who has gone on hunger strike for the second time since his incarceration in Iran in 2020, is being kept in “inhuman” conditions, his sister told IranWire.

Brière, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on espionage charges, stopped eating on January 28

“We are just waiting for something to happen so he can return home” after being the “victim of a big injustice,” Blandine Brière said on February 8.

“He is a very determined person. If he wants to do something, nothing can stop him and that’s why I’m scared about his strike,” she said.

Brière, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on espionage charges, stopped eating on January 28.

He was arrested in May 2020 and is being held in Vakilabad prison in the northeastern city of Mashhad.

He already went on hunger strike in 2021 to protest his incarceration.

Brière is among seven French citizens and more than two dozen foreign nationals believed to be behind bars in Iran.

Western governments have repeatedly accused the Islamic Republic of taking dual and foreign nationals hostage for the sole purpose of using them in prisoner swaps.

Blandine Brière said that his brother has been interrogated numerous times since his arrest and kept in solitary confinement for two months. He did not see the light for a whole month.

She is the only member of the family allowed to speak with Benjamin Brière every other week or every month, depending on the will of prison authorities.

Blandine Brière has two children who were one week old when her brother saw them for the last time, and she is worried they would grow up without seeing their uncle.

She believes her brother is a victim of a political and diplomatic spat between the French government and the Islamic Republic.

“My brother has been in the same prison for almost three years. He is being kept with people who don’t understand each other’s language. He spends his days with prisoners who will be executed the following week. My brother’s mental and physical condition is not good and is getting worse and worse,” Blandine Brière said.

“He’s just a tourist passionate about travelling,” she said.

Benjamin Brière’s France-based lawyer, Philippe Valent, has called the accusations against his client “fiction” and his trial a “parody” staged by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

“Benjamin is really tired. He really wants this difficult situation to end. He is on a hunger strike now so that he can get his freedom and return home,” his sister told IranWire.

“I want to tell the world that these seven [French nationals held in Iran] are hostages,” she said, adding that she was told their release was a “priority” for the French government.

Many European countries have urged their nationals to leave Iran, warning that they face the risk of arbitrary arrest or an unfair trial.

The Islamic Republic insists that all foreigners imprisoned in Iran have been tried according to due legal process.

Tehran has repeatedly shown a willingness for prisoner exchanges and has agreed to such swaps in the past.

The Islamic Republic has claimed that the anti-government demonstrations that have swept the country for more than four months are instigated by its foreign foes. Officials did not provide any evidence backing the allegation.

The European Union, the United States and other countries have slapped sanctions on the Iranian clerical regime over its brutal crackdown on the protests and its supply of military drones to Russia.

“It’s a political game and we are just normal people,” Blandine Brière said, referring to her brother’s imprisonment.

“We should just keep hoping. That’s all we can do.”