Iranians liken photos of pacifist protester on hunger strike to ‘Auschwitz’ treatment
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New photos of Farhad Meysami, a pacifist Iranian political activist, after spending weeks on a hunger strike in prison, have enraged Iranians on social media. His worrying state of health, evident in these pictures, prompted some Iranians to compare his situation to that of prisoners in Nazi death camps.
With bones jutting out from his skin and eyes staring out into space, the man’s face is unrecognisable. This is no longer the same man who went on a hunger strike four months ago. On February 3, the BBC’s Persian service published new images of activist Farhad Maysami in the notorious Rajaei Shahr Prison in the suburbs of Tehran.
Meysami is an Iranian political activist known for his pacifist beliefs. He was arrested in August 2018 after he publicly criticised Iran’s mandatory veiling laws by designing a button badge that read "I am against the compulsory hijab".
1/The once vibrant Farhad Meysami is now a shadow of himself as he continues his heroic hunger. His activism against mandatory hijab has landed him in prison since 2018. #IranRevoIution #مهسا_امینی pic.twitter.com/DtgpnTyq8u— Azam Jangravi | اعظم جنگروی (@azijangravi) February 2, 2023
He was sentenced to six years in prison for "anti-state propaganda" and "assembly and collusion against national security" for designing the buttons.
He is not an Auschwitz prisoner. He is imprisoned in the Islamic Republic, for opposing the compulsory hijab in Iran.#FarhadMeysami #فرهاد_میثمی pic.twitter.com/sg6n21mM0u— Hossein Bastani حسین باستانی (@hosseinbastani) February 2, 2023
When he began his hunger strike after the outbreak of the latest wave of protests in Iran, Meysami said his intentions were to demand an end to the execution of protesters in Iran, the imprisonment of political and social activists and the harrassment of women under the pretext of hijab laws. He repeated these intentions on February 3 in a message published by the BBC.
Despite describing these demands as a “mission impossible”, Meysami reiterated his dedication to the hunger strike and implored others to join his efforts.
>> Read more on The Observers: Iran: Protesters denied medical care and tortured to death in secret prisons
Since the outbreak of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests in Iran on September 16, 2022, after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police, more than 19,000 Iranians have been arrested. Four protesters have been executed while 13 others are on death row. At least 481 protesters have been killed in the streets, according to human rights organisations.