This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Activists in Iran and abroad have announced plans to go on hunger strike in protest against a rise in the clerical establishment’s use of the death penalty, including the execution of a 23-year-old protester who was diagnosed with a mental condition.
The campaign comes after imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi said she and dozens of other female prisoners would go on hunger strike on January 25 following the execution of Mohammad Qobadlou.
Detained during the nationwide “Women, Life, Freedom” protests against the Islamic republic’s leadership in 2022, Qobadlou was accused of killing a policeman and was executed on January 23.
The 23-year-old’s execution was condemned by activists and rights groups who noted that he suffered from bipolar disorder and that the Supreme Court had struck down the initial death sentence ruling. Qobadlou is the ninth person to be executed in connection with the 2022 protests.
Amnesty International said Qobadlou’s execution marked a “plunge into new realms of cruelty” by the Islamic leadership.
In her statement on social media, Mohammadi said the striking prisoners demanded an “end to executions in Iran.”
Several people, including journalists, lawyers, and former prisoners, have expressed support for the hunger strike and said they would join. Dissident Iran-based artists Toomaj Salehi and Mehdi Yarrahi and political prisoners Bahareh Hedayat and Zeynab Jalalian are among those who said they would go on hunger strike.
Foreign-based activists such as Masih Alinejad and Atena Daemi have also said they would join the strike.
Canada-based critic Hamed Esmaeilion, a former spokesman for the Association of Families of the Victims of the Ukrainian Flight PS752, appealed to the UN’s deputy high commissioner for human rights, Nada Al-Nashif, to visit political prisoners in Tehran’s Evin Prison during her upcoming trip to the capital.
Joanna Taimasi, the wife of Kurdish prisoner Mohsen Mazloum, said she was joining the strike as well to protest against what she described as the European Union’s and the German government’s silence in the face of Iran’s continued use of the death penalty.
Some foreign-based Iranian human rights groups have said the Islamic republic executed more than 700 prisoners last year.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 11 prisoners in Iran are at “imminent risk” of execution, most of whom are Kurdish.
In a report released in November, the United Nations said Iran is carrying out executions “at an alarming rate.”