PARIS: Iranian dissidents living inside the Islamic republic and in exile on Thursday went on hunger strike to protest the surge of hangings in Iran that included most recently a participant in the 2022 protest movement who activists say had mental health difficulties.

Led by jailed 2023 Nobel Peace Prize winner Narges Mohammadi, those going on the one-day hunger strike ranged from dozens of her cellmates in Tehran’s Evin prison to prominent campaigners living outside the country.

Concern over Tehran’s use of capital punishment has intensified following the hanging on Tuesday of Mohammad Ghobadlou, a 23-year-old sentenced to death over the fatal running down of a police officer during the protests, following a trial activists said was grossly unfair. According to Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights, he was one of at least 54 people executed by Iran so far this year.

Mohammadi, who through­­out her career has campaigned against Iran’s use of the death penalty, said on the Instagram account run by her family that all 61 women “political prisoners” in Tehran’s Evin prison would be on hunger strike.

“The imprisoned women will resist to keep alive the names of those who have been executed and spare the lives of hundreds of people in the prisons of the Islamic republic awaiting execution,” her statement said.

The social media account of rapper Toomaj Salehi, who was re-arrested in November, less than two weeks after his release on bail following his detention over supporting the protests, said he would also be joining the hunger strikes.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2024

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