By Michael Lipin, Ramin Haghjoo | VOA News |
WASHINGTON – One of Iran’s most prominent jailed dissidents, human rights defenders and lawyers, Nasrin Sotoudeh, has begun a second hunger strike to protest the refusal of the country’s Islamist rulers to free political prisoners endangered by coronavirus outbreaks in notorious Iranian jails.
Speaking to VOA Persian in a Tuesday interview from Tehran, Sotoudeh’s husband, Reza Khandan, said his wife started her latest hunger strike earlier in the day at the city’s Evin prison, where she has been detained since June 2018. He said Sotoudeh made the hunger strike open-ended but could halt the protest if at least some of her demands are met.
Khandan also shared with VOA an August 11 letter written by his wife and addressed to human rights defenders, explaining why she was demanding the release of political prisoners such as herself from overcrowded and unsanitary Iranian jails infested with the coronavirus.
“The conditions of political prisoners [in Iran] have become so difficult that it is impossible to continue their detention under these oppressive conditions,” Sotoudeh wrote.
Iran temporarily released tens of thousands of prisoners from its prisons in March as the nation’s coronavirus outbreak intensified but refused to release dissidents sentenced to more than five years in prison for peaceful activities designated as national security offenses.