Iranian activists launch hunger strike over execution of protester

BySomayeh Malekian ABCNews logo
Thursday, January 25, 2024

LONDON -- Dozens of Iranian women political prisoners went on a hunger strike Thursday in protest of the execution of Iranian protester Mohammad Ghobadlou.

The announcement of the hunger strike was made on the Instagram account of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi, who is among the 61 women on strike at the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran.

Since the announcement, many prominent Iranian artists and activists have stated they're joining the symbolic collective hunger strike from around the world.

Ghobadlou, who was hanged Tuesday by the Islamic Republic, was arrested in September 2022 during the bloody "Woman Life Freedom" protests that swept the nation. The 23-year-old was executed despite an international outcry. His lawyer, Amir Raisian, described this execution as a "murder" and an act without "any legal bases" as his client's court sentence had been initially overruled by the Iranian Supreme Court. Raisian announced on his X account he received the notice of the execution the night before Ghobaldou was hanged.

Ghobadlou was accused of "waging war against God" and "corruption on Earth," both crimes punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The Islamic Republic has executed at least seven other protesters for alleged crimes linked to mass protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022, allegedly at the hands of Iran's "morality police."

"The news of the execution of Iranian youth has sparked a wave of anger and protest in society," the political prisoners in Evin said in the statement Thursday. "In protest against the recent executions and for the 'halt of executions,' will engage in a united hunger strike on the 25th of Jan 2024."

They said this is a move "to keep the names of the executed alive" and to save hundreds of individuals awaiting execution in the prisons of the Islamic Republic.

"Be our voice against executions in Iran," they asked the public.

The regime has continued its brutal suppression of protesters after months of demonstrations ignited by Amini's death.

Amini, 22, was on a trip to Tehran in September 2022 when the hijab police, called the "morality police," arrested her allegedly for not fully complying with the Sharia-based compulsory hijab laws of the country. She was taken into custody only to be announced dead at a hospital three days later, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran Human Rights reported in April 2023 that at least 537 people had been killed since the start of the protests and, according to the state-run IRNA, at least 22,000 people were arrested.

Many activists, families of the former dissident victims of the Islamic Republic regime and Iranian prominent artists said they would also go on hunger strike Thursday.

"Together with '61 female prisoners of conscience of Evin' to protest the execution of Mohammad Ghobadlou and to stop the execution, with a symbolic approach, I will go on a hunger strike tomorrow, Thursday 25th of January," Mehdi Yarahi, a celebrated pop singer posted on his X account.

Yarahi himself was arrested by the regime in August after releasing a song celebrating the anniversary of the Mahsa Amini protests.

Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad also announced she would go on hunger strike Thursday. "Solidarity is beautiful, but if we don't take action, believe me, more people who are on the death row will be executed soon," she wrote on her X account.

Another well-known opposition figure, Hamed Esmailiyoun, said he wanted to speak on behalf of the 61 prisoners and others who have joined the collective movement.

In a video published on Instagram, Esmailion addressed Neda Al-Nashif, deputy high commissioner for human rights at the United Nations, and asked her to go to the Evin Prison when she visits Tehran. "Mrs. Al-Nashif should visit the prisoners who are on the death row."

"We must be their voice before it is too late for the prisoners on death row," he added.

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