Jailed Iranian Blogger Khazali Intensifies Hunger Strike

March 7, 2012

There is growing concern over the fate of jailed blogger Mehdi Khazali, who has reportedly been on hunger strike over his detention for some 60 days.

His defiance has turned him into a hero of Iran's opposition movement, and Khazali vowed to continue his strike until he is released.

The opposition "Kalame" website reports that Khazali has now escalated his protest by going on a "dry hunger strike," meaning that he is also refusing to drink liquids, on which he had been surviving since he stopped eating.

Last month, he issued a letter from jail in which he describes some of the difficult conditions under which Iranian prisoners live and the unfair trials some have been facing. He says several of his co-detainees have been sentenced to 17 years in prison following trials that lasted "2 minutes" and without any solid evidence being presented:

Many are incarcerated here only as a payback for disagreements with some high-ranking officials. They are under terrible physical and mental torture to make forced confessions of having connection with foreign intelligence agencies and embezzled money from state bodies.

Khazali's son said in late February that his father had been transferred to a hospital after his health deteriorated.

"When we saw him in the hospital, we couldn't believe it was him," Khazali's son told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran on Feb 24. "His weight loss was unbelievable; he was so thin. We are afraid something bad might happen to my father."

Hunger striking has become one of the only remaining forms of protest for political prisoners in Iran, who are often said to be put on trial without access to a legal representation.

Last week, former hard-line columnist and documentary filmmaker, Mohammad Nourizad, called on Khazali to end his hunger strike. Nourizad, who had also gone on hunger strike while in jail to protest his conditions, told RFE/RL he issued his open letter following a request by Khazali's 16-year-old son, who is extremely worried about his father.

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