In Iran, photos of the emaciated body of Farhad Meysami go viral
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The state of health of Farhad Meysami, Iranian doctor and activist, on hunger strike since October, is causing serious concern. Photos of his emaciated body went viral on social media on Friday, as his compatriot Jafar Panahi was released on bail.
An emaciated face, protruding ribs, sunken face. These photos of Farhad Meysami, who has become a shadow of himself, shocked millions of Iranians. The doctor and human rights activist, imprisoned in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, lost 52 kilos. Sentenced to five years in prison in 2018, he began his hunger strike on October 7, 2022 to protest against the death sentences of protesters in Iran.
“My client Farhad Meysami’s life is in danger,” lawyer Mohammad Moghimi tweeted on February 2. “He has gone on a hunger strike to protest recent government killings in the streets.”
Caution, these images may disturb.
Here is a new photo of Iranian political activist Farhad Meysami, who has been on a hunger strike for several weeks. He was arrested 4 years ago after criticizing compulsory hijab in Iran by making these badges: “I am against compulsory hijab”. https://t.co/VFh6HJbd93
— ERSHAD ALIJANI (@ErshadAlijani) February 2, 2023
The 53-year-old doctor, a fervent defender of human rights, is imprisoned for having supported activists protesting against the Iranian veil policy.
“This painful image is a symbol of the non-violent struggle of the Iranian people to obtain basic human rights,” said Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, director of the NGO Iran Human Rights based in Norway, during the posting photos on social media.
The images of the emaciated body went viral when director Jafar Panahi, himself on a hunger strike, was released on bail on February 3.
“Farhad Meysami’s images (…) make people think of Auschwitz or (Mahatma) Gandhi, since Meysami wrote about non-violence,” Jafar Panahi said. Many are left behind bars…so how can I say I feel happy?”
What a heartbreaking statement by Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi mins after he is released from Evin prison.
He asks how can I be happy when likes of Dr. Farhad Meysami on hunger strike reminds us of Auschwitz? When the prison I left is full of Univ. Teachers & bright students? pic.twitter.com/QGDikzq41U
— Bahman Kalbasi (@BahmanKalbasi) February 4, 2023
The Iranian authorities claim that these pictures were taken four years ago, thus dismissing the danger of death hanging over the detainee.
According to rights groups, more than 500 demonstrators have been killed and nearly 20,000 arrested since the death of Mahsa Amini, arrested on September 16 in Tehran for an “ill-worn” veil. At least four people have been hanged, others are waiting on death row.
On February 2, the BBC’s Persian Service published a letter from Farhad Meysami in which he made three demands for an end to his hunger strike: “an end to executions, the release of political and civilian prisoners and an end harassment by forced hijab”. “I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it can become possible later through collective effort,” he wrote again.