close button
Switch to Iranwire Light?
It looks like you’re having trouble loading the content on this page. Switch to Iranwire Light instead.
Society & Culture

Journalist on Hunger Strike: “I will lose or they will”

June 6, 2016
Mansoureh Farahani
4 min read
Journalist on Hunger Strike: “I will lose or they will”
Ehsan Mazandarani arrived at the hospital in a wheelchair
Ehsan Mazandarani arrived at the hospital in a wheelchair
Ehsan Mazandarani and his wife Maliheh Hosseini
Ehsan Mazandarani and his wife Maliheh Hosseini

Ehsan Mazandarani, a jailed Iranian journalist sentenced to seven years in prison, has been transferred to hospital due to severe health problems — the result of an extended hunger strike and being held in solitary confinement for four months.

Mazandarani, the managing editor of the newspaper Farhikhtegan, was arrested by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in early November 2015, along with three other journalists, Afarin Chitsaz, Saman Safarzai and Isa Saharkhiz, and a brother of a journalist, Davoud Asadi. They were all accused of being part of an “infiltration network” conspiring with “hostile” Western governments.

Speaking to IranWire, Mazandarani’s brother-in-law, Sam Hosseini, said Mazandarani was in good health before his arrest. But eight months later, due to the harsh conditions he is being held under, he has started to suffer from a range of health issues, including lung, intestine and trachea infections, as well as kidney problems.

“He was held for 126 days in solitary confinement, and because of the bad conditions there, he is now very sick,” said the brother-in-law, who lives in Germany.

Hosseini also said he was not permitted any contact with Mazandarani for the first eight months of his detention. Only last week was he allowed to speak to him on the phone.

“I was happy to hear his voice after eight months,” Hosseini said. “But his voice had changed. He is not good mentally or physically.”

After being held for months, Mazandarani’s trial began on March 7 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. The branch is presided over by Judge Moghiseh, whom human rights organizations have repeatedly accused of violating judicial practice and the rights of defendants. In April 2016, the judge sentenced Mazandarani to seven years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “spreading propaganda against the regime.”

According to his lawyer, Alizadeh Tabatabaei, the main reason for the charges against him was his connection to foreign-based networks. Mazandarani is now awaiting the appeals court decision; however, Iran’s judiciary has prohibited Tabatabaei from representing him in the appeals court case. Instead, Mazandarani will be represented by lawyer Houshang Babai, whose name appears on a list of “approved” lawyers, which has been prepared by the judiciary.

It’s not the first time Iranian authorities have prevented Tabatabaei, who regularly defends national security-related cases, from representing his clients. Tabatabaei recently said the family of two jailed Iranian-Americans, father and son Siamak and Baquer Namazi, had asked him to represent the two. Yet he has been prevented from seeing his clients or accessing their files.


Hunger Strike and Hospital

On May 17, Mazandarani went on hunger strike after being transferred to Evin Prison’s Ward 2A, a ward controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Although he was transferred back to Ward 8 after a few days, Mazandarani has refused to break his strike, protesting against the brutal conditions under which he is being held.

“I will lose or they will,” Mazandarani said, according to his brother-in-law, referring to the Iranian authorities. Due to his declining health, Mazandarani was sent to hospital on Wednesday, June 1.

“Ehsan’s blood pressure is very low, and he has passed out many times,” Hosseini said. “He is in a critical condition, but he will continue his hunger strike until his case is heard by the appeals court.”

Hosseini said he is extremely worried for his sister, Mazandarani’s wife Maliheh Hosseini, who has been hugely affected by the arrest and detention of her husband. “She is under a lot of pressure and stress,” Hosseini said. “Once my parents went with her to visit Ehsan in prison. They walked a long way; then a guard drove them to a small room in the middle of nowhere. They were waiting to see Ehsan for hours in that small room, but at the end, they were told that they couldn’t see him that day.”

Hosseini said Maliheh refused to get into the guards’ van. “She wanted to see her husband,” he said, “but the guards pulled her on the ground and forced her into the van. Her clothes were shredded. She passed out for a couple of minutes. At the end, Maliheh and our parents weren’t allowed to see Mazandarani. The driver dropped them off in a quiet alley, from where they had to find their way home by foot. Why do they treat them like this?”

Mazandarani has been detained in connection with his journalism activities before. On February 20, 2013 – when he was a reporter for the reformist newspaper Etemad – he was arrested and accused of cooperating with the BBC. His arrest was part of a crackdown on journalists in Iran, which began on January 27, 2013 – a day that came to be known as “Black Sunday”. 


Images of Iran

Gazebo of Glass for World Environment Day

June 6, 2016
Gazebo of Glass for World Environment Day