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Human Rights Watch: Iran must release ailing human rights defender Golrokh Iraee immediately

Iraee, who was sentenced to six years in prison for peaceful activism in April 2015, was sent to hospital from her prison cell on April 3, after suffering medical complications related to her hunger strike. An anonymous source told HRW that Iraee had lost a significant amount of weight.

Authorities prevented her family from visiting until April 9. When her family arrived in Varamin on April 3 to visit her in prison, they were told she’d been transferred to a Tehran hospital, but authorities refused to say what prison or why she’d been sent there.

Iraee began her hunger strike on February 3 after she and another human rights defender Atena Daemi were transferred from Evin prison in Tehran to Qarchak prison in the city of Varamin. Qarchak is used for housing dangerous prisoners and put the peaceful activists at further risk of attack – this is a common method of torture by the Regime.

Daemi ended her hunger strike on February 26, but Iraee continued hers until April 3.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at HRW, said: “There is nothing to suggest that Iraee has committed any genuine crime and keeping her one more day behind bars is illegal. She should be released immediately.”

Iraee’s “crimes”

Iraee was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence Service on September 6, 2014, along with her husband and fellow human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, and two other people.

Iraee was charged with “insulting the sacred” and creating “propaganda against the state” for writing an unpublished fictional story against the practice of stoning that the IRGC found on her laptop.

HRW has documented many, many problems with the case, from a lack of access to legal representation (common in trials in Iran) to the biases of Judge Abdolghassem Salavati who presided over the case and has sentenced dozens of activists to unfair prison sentences.

There are, of course, many other peaceful human rights defenders serving long prison terms (or currently under house arrest) in Iran, including Narges Mohammadi, Abdolfatah Soltani, Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Zahra Rahnavard,

Whitson said. “Iranian authorities are apparently so threatened by human rights defenders that they imprison them for years. Instead of making prison conditions worse, Iran should start listening to defenders’ demands for more rights and freedom for all citizens.”

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