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Hunger Strike - Urmiye Prison

On Thursday, 20th of November 2014, 27 Kurdish political prisoners in Urmiye’s central prison started a large scale hunger strike to condemn transfer of dangerous convicts to ward of political prisoners, as well as transfer of political prisoners to non-political wards and also to protest inhumane pressure by intelligence office inside the prison.

Firat News Agency has prepared and published a detailed report on prisoner’s hunger strike as well as condition of Urmiye’s central prison and this report has been translated by

The 12th ward in Urmiye’s central prison is known as Political Prisoners’ Ward which has capacity of 50 people. However during the past two years prison officials attempted to disband the political ward by systematically transferring several political prisoners to ward of dangerous crimes that includes murderers and drug dealers and on the other hand routinely transferring non-political and dangerous prisoners who have history of attacking inmates to the ward of political prisoners. Instead of sending new political prisoners to 12th Ward, majority of them are sent to other wards and as of now 35 political prisoners are kept in wards of murderers and drug dealers.

According to the latest data, currently 80 prisoners are kept in 12th Ward where 50 of the inmates are non-political prisoners and only the remaining 30 are political prisoners. Overpopulation in this ward impacted the facilities where access to fresh air, taking shower, prison’s clinic etc. to be more limited for political prisoners.

Every now and then the prison’s special guards raid the political ward to harass and seize political prisoners’ personal belongings such as books, magazines, and handwritten notes. Political prisoners are prohibited from using prison facilities such as library, and gym. They are not even allowed to receive books and magazines that have publication license by Iran’s ministry of culture which is accessible to the people outside of prison. Having an intelligence office inside the prison is another challenge faced by political prisoners since intelligence agents constantly summon and threaten political prisoners to arrest their family members, transferring them to individual cell prison or add records to their judicial file.

In protest against Urmiye’s central prison’s condition, 30 political prisoners from 12th ward staged a hunger strike since 20th of November and currently the strike is ongoing among 26 inmates. Instead of considering the valid demands of political prisoners in hunger strike, the prison officials as well as intelligence agents summoned, threatened and even exiled them. On 23rd of November intelligence office in central prison of Urmiye summoned Osman Mostafapour and warned him that hunger strike must stop otherwise another judiciary file will be opened for all the participants in the hunger strike. Osman Mostafapour is sentenced to 34 years in prison and currently he served over 20 years.

On 29th of November the special guards of prison were deployed behind 12th Ward’s gates and windows as they were equipped with baton, Taser, and pepper spray. The warden threatened the political prisoners by announcing if they don’t end the hunger strike, they will be beaten by special guards. On the same day the prisoners who had visitors were forced to take off their clothe in visiting hall to be searched before meeting their relatives on excuse of preventing deliver of letters to outside the prison. Mansour Arvand, the Kurdish political prisoner sentenced to execution was removed from Urmiye’s prison with handcuffs and leg cuff the same day that he had visitors. He was transferred to Mahabad’s prison without prior notice. On the same date (29th of November) at 22 O clock the prison guards attempted to transfer Mohammad Abdullahi to murderer’s ward however they were faced with resistance from political prisoners.

On Monday, 8th of December Jafar Afshari was summoned to security officers’ office and subsequently transferred to labours ward. On the same day Arafat Asghari, a member in hunger strike movement was released after serving six months in prison.

On Tuesday, 9th of December Ali Afshari, a political prisoner sentenced to execution was summoned to security office where he spoke to Urmiye’s head of intelligence office. The security official demanded the hunger strike to end immediately otherwise they will suffer from horrible consequences. He added if the hunger strike continues, enforcing Ali Afshari’s execution is not far from expectation.

On Wednesday, 10th of December Ali Afshari fell unconscious in ward’s lavatory due to severe weakness, low blood pressure, as well as due to untreated gunshot wounds during arrestment. He was immediately transferred to clinic. Due to his severe condition he was transferred from clinic to Urmiye’s Khomeini hospital. He was returned to prison’s clinic with handcuff and leg cuff later that night. Clinic’s doctor installed serum for him however Ali Afshari still continue the hunger strike despite his critical health condition.

Due to severe weakness and low blood pressure Reza Rasouli and Abdullah Amooei passed out and were transferred to prison’s clinic. After gaining conscious they moved back to their ward and continued their strike. According to the latest reports the health condition of Reza Rasouli, Yousef Kaka Mami, Sherko Hassanpour, Sirwan Najavi, Abdullah Amooei and Mohammad Abdullahi is in critical stage. Alireza Rasouli was the first person who started the hunger strike and after nearly 40 days his physical situation is severely critical. Health condition of other political prisoners is reported to be poor.

Masoud Shams Nejad is a Kurdish lawyer who was defending some of the Kurdish political prisoners whom are sentenced to death. He was arrested for four month in prison on charges of having contact with media outlets that oppose Iranian government. Masoud Shams Nejad joined the hunger strike since 10th of December and due to that he was physically attacked by prison guards.

Currently 27 Kurdish political prisoners continue their hunger strike in 12th ward of Urmiye’s central prison.


List of Kurdish political prisoners that have participated in the hunger strike:

1. Sherko Hassanpour, 5 years prison
2. Abdullah Biselnoon, 1.5 year prison
3. Yousef Kake Mami, 9 years imprisonment
4. Osman Mostafapour, 34 years imprisonment
5. Mostafa Ali Ahmad, 11 years imprisonment
6. Abdullah Amooyee, Uncertain situation
7. Jafar Afshari, 5 years imprisonment
8. Vali Afshari, 5 years imprisonment
9. Keyhan Darvishi, 3 years imprisonment
10. Mostafa Davoodi, 10 years imprisonment
11. Shoresh Afshari, 5 years imprisonment
12. Khizir Rasoul Morovvat, 5 years imprisonment
13. Mohammad Abdullah Bakht, 1 year imprisonment
14. Reza Rasouli, 3 years and 9 months imprisonment
15. Ahmad Tamooei, 15 years imprisonment
16. Amir Maladoost, 4 years imprisonment
17. Masoud Shams Nejad, 4 months imprisonment
18. Seyyed Sami Hosseini, Sentenced to death (Execution)
19. Seyyed Jamal Mohammadi, Sentenced to death (Execution)
20. Behrouz Alkhani, Sentenced to death (Execution)
21. Ali Ahmad Soleiman, Sentenced to death (Execution)
22. Saman Nassim, Sentenced to death (Execution)
23. Sirwan Najavi, Sentenced to death (Execution)
24. Ibrahim Issapour, Sentenced to death (Execution)
25. Ali Afshari, Sentenced to death (Execution)
26. Rizgar Afshari, Sentenced to death (Execution)
27. Mohammad Abdullahi, Sentenced to death (Execution)

Source: Firat News Agency
Translated by