RFL/RE – Iranian political prisoners Sepideh Gholian and Mahboubeh Rezaei, incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, have warned about the deteriorating health of fellow inmate Zahra Sarv, who has been on a hunger strike since early December to protest against the harsh treatment and injustices she has faced since her arrest in October 2021.
The plight of Sarv, detailed in a letter obtained by RFE/RL’s Radio Farda, outlines a pattern of disregard for prisoner rights within the Iranian judicial system.
Despite having served one-third of her sentence, Sarv’s conditional release has been repeatedly denied, reportedly due to the objections of her case interrogator.
The situation has reached a critical point, with Sarv being compelled to endure a 6 1/2-year sentence handed to her by Branch 26 of the Tehran Revolutionary Court on charges of “conspiracy and collusion to act against national security” and “propaganda against the system.”
Throughout the legal proceedings, she and her lawyer were denied access to her case file.
Gholian and Rezaei, who have themselves been subject to harsh treatment in prison, have voiced their despair at witnessing Sarv’s state of health and well-being decline rapidly in recent days.
Sarv, who says she has been denied proper medical attention even though she suffers from gastrointestinal problems, has gone on hunger strikes several times in the past to protest against her lack of rights and mistreatment.
Unrest has rattled Iran since last summer in response to declining living standards, wage arrears, and a lack of insurance support. Labor law in Iran does not recognize the right of workers to form independent unions.
Adding to the dissent, the September 2022 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly breathed new life into demonstrations, which officials across the country have since tried to quell with harsh measures.
The activist HRANA news agency said that more than 500 people have been killed during the unrest, including 71 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.
Thousands have been arrested in the clampdown, with the judiciary handing out harsh sentences — including the death penalty — to protesters.