Security agents kidnap prisoner on hunger strike from hospital bed

Iranian blogger & publisher, Mahdi Khazali

Iranian blogger & publisher, Mahdi Khazali

Blogger Mahdi Khazali suffers heart attack

Imprisoned Iranian blogger and publisher Mahdi Khazali has suffered a heart attack, more than forty days after he first began his hunger strike, according to reports.

Kaleme, a website associated with opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, reported on Saturday that Khazali had initially been transferred to the infirmary of the notorious Evin Prison after cardiac complications. He was then taken to the critical-care unit at Tehran’s Taleghani hospital. Hours later, security forces entered the hospital and took Khazali to an unknown location. This was done without any coordination with the medical staff, who could do nothing but stand idly by and bear witness to the agents’ actions.

Khazali was violently arrested by security forces on 9 January, during which his arm was broken. While in detention, prison authorities reportedly refused to take him to the Medical Examiner’s Office, despite the family’s request.

Almost immediately after his arrest, Khazali began a strike to protest the illegal nature of his arrest and detention.

On the 33rd day of his father’s strike, Mahdi Khazali’s son Mohammad Saleh Khazali told theInternational Campaign for Human Rights that after he was suffering stomach bleeding, prison authorities “transferred him from Evin Prison’s Ward 209 to the General Ward (350), and he was taken to the infirmary.”

“After two weeks of refusing to let him have visitors, we were finally able to visit with him with a letter from the prosecutor. He had lost a lot of weight. He was in very poor condition, and unfortunately, since that day we don’t know about his condition,” he told the campaign at the time. He also recently toldKaleme that “we know he won’t back down from the hunger strike, and there’s nothing we can do to [stop him] and we can only pray for him on this path.”

“Instead of asking me to end my strike, ask them [the authorities] to end these illegal imprisonments,” he wrote in a letter to the wives of Iran-Iraq war heroes Mohammad Ebrahim Hemmad and Hamid Bakeri.

In February, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Pirabbasi, sentenced Mehdi Khazali to fourteen years in jail in the southern Iranian city of Borazjan, ten years in exile in the same city, and ninety lashes, allegedly for his interview with the BBC’s Persian service and writing a letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The resilient blogger, publisher and physician has thus far not heeded to calls from a number of prominent figures, as well as his wife, to cease his hunger strike, stating he is prepared for “martyrdom” and will continue until “justice prevails.”

“It is unkind, witnessing your wife and children mourning your gradual, yet will full death,” Khazali wrote in a letter to his wife. “My dears; today, our tears, like those of Hussein, son of Ali, must be the source of simmering [concern], change, effort and struggle … We must turn into a flood that outroot injustice and oppression, so let us shed tears over and over again. These tears will eradicate the oppressor,”

On the 36th day of his strike, Khazali sent another letter to Ahmad Montazeri, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, describing the injustices and horrors faced by many of the inmates he encountered in Evin Prison. “Amongst us, there are prisoners from the 80s who have survived the massacre of [political prisoners in] 1988. When they speak of the situation in those days, the hair on one’s body stands erects,” Khazali noted, highlighting the gruesome conditions in Iran’s prisons in that period.

“Now I see what would have become of us, had your father not existed. Here, all prisoners pray for your father.”

Dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, was the designated successor to the leader of Iran’s revolution until spring 1989 when he was removed from his position for denouncing the sudden, mass execution of political dissidents the previous year. “These mass executions … violate the fundamental principles of Islam, the Holy Prophet, and our Imam Ali,” he wrote in a letter to Imam Khomeini. Considered by many as the Green Movement’s spiritual leader, the cleric was a constant thorn in the sight of Iran’s ruling elite until his death in December 2009.

Khazali described many of the treatments by Iranian prison wardens and interrogators as contrary to the Islamic law. “Religious and moral codes are never observed,” he writes, maintaining that torturers showed no respect for the prisoners’ Islamic beliefs.

The Khazalis are a familiar name in Iran. Mahdi, best known for the anti-government views he regularly expressed on his weblog, has been imprisoned a number of times in the past two and a half years. His most recent arrest came in July 2011 when he was held in Evin for 27 days.

His father, Ayatollah Abolghasem Khazali, is an influential cleric and member of the Assembly of Experts, the body with the authority to dismiss or appoint the leader. In strike contrast to his son’s critical views, Ayatollah Khazali is seen as a staunch supporter of Iran’s ruling elite, especially the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He has openly distanced himself from his son’s positions on a number of occasions.

Kaleme, a website associated with opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, reported on Saturday that Khazali was initially transferred to the infirmary of the notorious Evin Prison after cardiac complications. He was then taken to the critical-care unit at Tehran’s Taleghani hospital. Hours later, security forces entered the hospital and took Khazali to an unknown location. This was done without any coordination with the medical staff who could do nothing but to stand idly by and bear witness to the agents’ actions.

Khazali was violently arrested by security forces on 9 January, during which his arm was broken. While in detention, prison authorities reportedly refused to take him to the Medical Examiner’s Office, despite the family’s request.

Almost immediately after the start of his arrest, Khazali began a strike to protest the illegal nature of his arrest and detention.

On the 33rd day of his father’s strike, Mahdi Khazali’s son Mohammad Saleh Khazali told the International Campaign for Human Rights that after he suffering stomach bleeding, prison authorities “transferred him from Evin Prison’s Ward 209 to the General Ward (350), and he was taken to the infirmary,”

“After two weeks of refusing to let him have visitors, we were finally able to visit with him with a letter from the prosecutor. He had lost a lot of weight. He was in very poor condition, and unfortunately, since that day we don’t know about his condition,” he told the campaign at the time. He also recently told Kaleme,that “we know he won’t back down from the hunger strike, and there’s nothing we can do to [stop him] and we can only pray for him on this path.”

“Instead of asking me to end my strike, ask them [the authorities] to end these illegal imprisonments,” he wrote in a letter to the wives of Iran-Iraq war heroes Mohammad Ebrahim Hemmad and Hamid Bakeri.

In February, Branch 26 of Tehran Revolutionary Court, presided over by Judge Pirabbasi, sentenced Mehdi Khazali to fourteen years in jail in the southern Iran, ten years in exile in the same city and ninety lashes, allegedly for his interview with the BBC’s Persian service and writing a letter to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The resilient blogger, publisher and physician has thus far not taken heed to calls by a number of prominent figures, as well as his wife, to cease his hunger strike, stating he is prepared for “martyrdom” and will continue until “justice prevails.”

“It is unkind, witnessing your wife and children mourning your gradual, yet willful death,” Khazali wrote in a letter to his wife. “My dears; today, our tears, like those of Hussein, son of Ali, must be the source of simmering [concern], change, effort and struggle … We must turn them into a flood that uproot injustice and oppression. So let us shed tears over and over again. These tears will eradicate the oppressor.”

On the 36th day of his strike, Khazali sent another letter to Ahmad Montazeri, son of the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, describing the injustices and horrors faced by many of the inmates he encountered in Evin Prison. “Amongst us, there are prisoners from the 80s who survived the massacre of [political prisoners in] 1988. When they speak of the situation in those days, the hair on one’s body stands erects,” Khazali noted, highlighting the gruesome conditions in Iran’s prisons in that period.

“Now I see what would have become of us had your father not existed. Here, all prisoners pray for your father.”

Dissident cleric Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, was the designated successor to the leader of Iran’s revolution until spring 1989, when he was removed from his position for denouncing the sudden, mass execution of political dissidents the previous year. “These mass executions … violate the fundamental principles of Islam, the Holy Prophet, and our Imam Ali,” he wrote in a letter to Imam Khomeini. Considered by many as the Green Movement’s spiritual leader, the cleric was a constant thorn in the side of Iran’s ruling elite until his passing in December 2009.

Khazali described many of the treatments by Iranian prison wardens and interrogators as contrary to the Islamic law. “Religious and moral codes are never observed,” he writes, maintaining that torturers showed no respect for the prisoners’ Islamic beliefs.

The Khazalis are a familiar name in Iran. Mahdi, best known for the anti-government views he regularly expressed on his weblog, has been imprisoned a number of times in the past two and a half years. His most recent arrest came in July 2011 when he was held in Evin for 27 days.

His father, Ayatollah Abolghasem Khazali, is an influential cleric and member of the Assembly of Experts, the body with the authority to dismiss or appoint the Leader. In striking contrast to his son’s critical views, Ayatollah Khazali is seen as a staunch supporter of Iran’s ruling elite, especially Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He has openly distanced himself from his son’s positions on a number of occasions.

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