Iranian civil rights lawyer Soheila Hejab started a hunger strike in prison to protest the Islamic Republic’s harassment of her and her family. Hejab currently suffers from severe health problems and Iranians on social media are urging the regime to release the attorney. Her hunger strike has been ongoing for two weeks already.
The National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI) tweeted on Friday: “The Islamic Republic has kept #SoheilaHejab, an Iranian lawyer and activist, in jail without proper access to medical care for months. She has launched multiple hunger strikes and is in dire circumstances.”
The Islamic Republic has kept #SoheilaHejab, an Iranian lawyer and activist, in jail without proper access to medical care for months.She has launched multiple hunger strikes and is in dire circumstances.#سهیلا_حجاب pic.twitter.com/zgLN3rEVpq— NUFDI (@NUFDIran) October 1, 2021
Mariam Memarsadegh, Iranian-American expert on human rights in Iran, said on Friday: "Despite suffering torture and threats to her life, Soheila Hejab has continued from inside prison to denounce the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and unmistakably call for overthrow. The fierce courage in her voice is chilling."
Memarsadeghi, who advocates for democracy in Iran and is a fellow for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a Canada-based research center, added: "Like many who have dissented from the Islamist totalitarian regime, she is an advocate for democracy in the form of a constitutional monarchy and a supporter of Reza Pahlavi.”
On numerous occasions #SoheilaHejab #سهیلا_حجاب has courageously recorded her own voice from inside prison, directly denouncing Khamenei. She’s an advocate for constitutional monarchy, one of Iran’s lionesses of freedom. She’s on hunger strike—we must be her voice. pic.twitter.com/To9oI3sEjo— Mariam Memarsadeghi (@memarsadeghi) October 1, 2021
Similarly, on Tuesday, the Center for Human Rights in Iran tweeted: “Imprisoned rights lawyer Soheila Hejab was assaulted by prisoners convicted of ‘dangerous crimes’ in Iran's Gharchak Prison, reports HRANA [Human Rights Activists News Agency]. The assault was instigated by a prison official. Hejab had ended a hunger strike on Oct. 3 after receiving pledges from the authorities.”
Imprisoned rights lawyer Soheila Hejab was assaulted by prisoners convicted of “dangerous crimes” in Iran's Gharchak Prison, reports HRANA. The assault was instigated by a prison official.Hejab had ended a hunger strike on Oct. 3 after receiving pledges from the authorities. pic.twitter.com/y6Fo2wGaX0— IranHumanRights.org (@ICHRI) October 5, 2021
Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian academic with a focus on the Middle East, who was wrongfully imprisoned by the clerical regime in Tehran, took to Twitter on Sunday: “My friend Soheila Hejab has been on hunger strike in Qarchak prison for the past 2 weeks. She is suffering from low blood pressure and stomach and kidney problems. She is protesting the harassment of her and her family by members of the security forces.”
She added that “When I knew Soheila in 2020, she was recovering from an earlier months-long hunger strike which left her emaciated and bed-ridden. During this strike, she contracted Covid and spent time on a ventilator in ICU. Soheila is exceptionally brave and determined. We must be her voice."
My friend Soheila Hejab has been on hunger strike in Qarchak prison for the past 2 weeks. She is suffering from low blood pressure and stomach and kidney problems. She is protesting the harassment of her and her family by members of the security forces.https://t.co/kAW2JJI4BG— Kylie Moore-Gilbert (@KMooreGilbert) October 3, 2021
Radio Farda, the Iranian version of the US-government-funded Radio Free Europe, reported back in May 2020 that Hejab said in a voice recording from prison that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) security agents arrested her and inflicted violence on her after she attended an appeals court hearing.
Radio Farda wrote on Monday: "In her message, the activist says her assailants held her by her hair, dragged her on the ground and kicked her before taking her to the notorious Qarchak prison,” adding that “According to Ms. Hejab, her Revolutionary Guard interrogator has repeatedly threatened to have her killed by dangerous criminals in prison."
سهیلا حجاب، فعال مدنی زندانی در قرچک ورامین که بهرغم وضعیت نامساعد جسمی از دو هفته پیش در اعتصاب غذا به سر میبرد، به اعتصاب غذای خود پایان داد.https://t.co/k2H6u7VFQD— RadioFarda|راديو فردا (@RadioFarda_) October 4, 2021
She urged the media to help her expose her case and shine a light on the brutality she faces.
Radio Farda reported that Hejab wrote a letter about the repression of protestors by the regime security forces in November 2019 and January 2020 urging the "toppling the tyrannical regime".
Hejab is of Iranian-Kurdish background whose family comes from the Iranian city of Kermanshah.
Iranian authorities arrested her in January 2018 in Shiraz, charging her with "assembly, collusion and propaganda against the system.” Iran’s theocratic state frequently levels nebulous charges against Iranians who object to alleged corruption and violence of the Islamic Republic.