Kurdish journalist imprisoned for more than 1,500 days without furlough

 

The violation of the most fundamental rights for Kurdish prisoners has become a common practice in Iran- namely in the prisons. Recently, a number of unknown Kurdish prisoners have launched hunger strikes to protest the deplorable conditions they are forced to endure.

In late June, three Kurdish men held in the inhumane Rajai Shahr ‘Gohardasht’ prison (Karaj) entered their 26th day of hunger strike, and other reports counted as many as 25 political prisoners on hunger strike in various detention centres.  In July, Jamal Alizadeh, a Kurdish man held in Orumiyeh central prison (Western Azerbaijan province), also launched a hunger strike.

There is another prisoner, Kurdish journalist Kamal Sharifi, who has also risked his life, in hopes of his basic prisoner rights to be respected. Sharifi launched a hunger strike in July to protest the unsuitable prison conditions and the violation of his rights as a prisoner of conscience. On the 55th day of abstaining from eating, he ended the strike upon his mother’s request. Sharifi had lost 25 kilograms of weight by then.

Before the recent visit from his mother to request an end to the hunger strike, Sharifi was banned from receiving prison visits while also deprived of the most basic prisoner rights. Additionally, the Kurdish political prisoner has been denied furlough for more than 1,500 days. Sharifi is held in prison exile in Hormozgan, located in southern Iran.

His brother Taha Sharifi spoke to Jaras: “Kamal Sharifi is banned from receiving visits. We were only allowed to visit him after he was on hunger strike for 55 days. During that visit, my mother and I asked him to end his strike and he accepted. In the short phone calls he is allowed to make he informs us that he is well- otherwise, we would have no news about his health or condition. He contacted us several days ago and said he is experiencing problems in his feet (or legs), and needs to be examined by a specialist outside the prison. We don’t know if they will allow him to visit a specialist outside the prison. When we went to visit him, his hands and feet were shackled. Even in the prison, he was in shackles. He is held in the same ward as prisoners serving time for charges related to drug-trafficking…”

His sister Mahnaz Sharifi had previously told Jaras: “We ask from the [Iranian authorities] to respect political prisoners and look into their demands. We ask that prisoners in need of medical attention be provided with such care. We want increased supervision for the prisons and the conditions of political prisoners. We ask that the basic rights of prisoners of conscience, such as visits and furlough, be respected, so their families do not suffer further. But what can we do? Nobody hears our voice!”

Taha Sharifi: “My father and mother are older and they want to see their son. However, not a single visit has been granted. We have corresponded and met in person with different officials. We wrote a letter to Mr. Khamenei (the Iranian Supreme Leader) and another to Mr. Ahmadinejad (the Iranian President), but we have not received any response to these letters. Only Mr. Shahroudi, Mr. Khamenei’s representative, gave us a letter so that we could visit Kamal and ask him to end his strike after he had lost 25 kilograms.”

Taha Sharifi explains further that there is nothing Kamal Sharifi’s lawyers can do. “My brother’s first lawyer was Ms. Shirin Ebadi, who is outside Iran. Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, his other lawyer, has been arrested, and is in jail. Now, his lawyer is Mr. Sheikhi, but there is nothing he can do,” she said.

In 1999, The Saghez Revolutionary Court sentenced Kamal Sharifi to 30 years in prison to be served in exile. He was charged with, “Moharebeh” (enmity with and waging war against God). His father Bayazid Sharifi has said previously, “Kamal wants to be tried fairly and able to ask the judge what crime he had committed to deserve the suffering and the imprisonment.”

 

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