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Health concerns for Vahid Hakkani as hunger strike goes on

Health concerns for Vahid Hakkani as hunger strike goes on

After more than 36 days, imprisoned Christian convert Vahid Hakkani’s hunger strike continues. 

Vahid is protesting against the verdicts issued by the judicial authorities against him and three fellow converts, Mojtaba Hosseini, Homayoun Shokouhi and Mohammad-Reza Partovi. 

Article18’s Advocacy Director, Mansour Borji, expressed deep concern about his health, saying: “Before this, Vahid was transferred to the Faqihi Hospital in Shiraz due to a gastrointestinal problem and the deterioration of his physical condition. The continuation of this hunger strike may pose a serious threat to his health, and we are worried about this.”

Borji added that the sentences against the men – of three years and eight months each in prison – “lack legal validity because the judge issuing the sentence, without legal backing, found the participation of Christians in the church an offence against the Islamic system and for that reason as a forbidden act”.

The four men were first arrested at a “house church” meeting in Shiraz on 8 February 2012.

Then on 10 June, 2013, Judge Rashidi, head of the Third Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, citing their formation of a house-church, sentenced them to three years and eight months in prison for “forming a group and propaganda meetings with the aim of promoting and spreading [Christianity],” under Articles 498, 499 and 500 of the Islamic Penal Code.

Officials at the Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, in response to Vahid’s hunger strike, initially transferred him to solitary confinement, and after his return to his cell prevented him from making telephone calls or receiving visitors.

Various reports have been published about the harsh conditions in Adel Abad Prison’s Band-e-Ebrat (Ward of Lessons), including the denial of medical care for prisoners of conscience like Vahid.