Majid Tavakoli, academic and activist, has been held in solitary confinement in Evin prison in Tehran since May 23. He has begun a hunger and thirst strike. His mother denounces his graver health conditions: no politicians intervene to free him, as was the case with the film director Jafar PanahI
As the world celebrates the release of Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, another political prisoner – in the complete indifference of the international community – is risking his life in prison to protest against the ongoing repression in the Islamic Republic. Majid Tavakoli, a member of the Islamic Association of Amir Kabir University, was arrested three times in the past. The last arrest dates to December 7, 2010, after a speech he delivered at the university as part of protests against the outcome of presidential elections in June. On Sunday, May 23, the young activist was transferred to solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison in Tehran and simultaneously he began a hunger and thirst strike.
The family of Majid denounces his grave health conditions – he already suffers from kidney problems – and the indifference of the world and “democratic” Iran to his fate. In an interview with pro-opposition Jaras website, Majid’s mother observed: “My son is not a politician nor an artist. The world knows nothing of him and no one weeps for his hunger strike. ” The reference is to Juliette Binoche’s tears during the award at Cannes last week. The French actress mobilized support, along with other international artists for the release of Panahi, who is also on hunger strike. International pressure led to yesterday’s release of the director of “The Circle”, arrested on March 2. The release took place after the payment of bail amounting to about 200 thousand dollars, on the orders of Tehran prosecutor general.
Mrs. Tavakoli notes that her son is a mere student on whose behalf no politician has tried to intercede with the Iranian Justice. Especially since the courts also deny her the opportunity to speak to him. So far, only the “reformist” leader Karroubi has visited the Tavakoli family or interested himself about the young man’s health conditions. “I have no choice but to ask the world to come to our aid,” said the woman, who is leading a hunger strike in solidarity with her son at home.
Majid Tavakoli was taken back to the Revolutionary Court in Tehran dressed in prison uniform and with lacerations above his right eyebrow (lacerations are tear-like wounds caused by blunt trauma). He was not given any reason for needing to appear before the court. Majid Tavakoli has been detained in solitary confinement for the past three weeks.
According to Bamdad Khabar, prior to today’s closed-door court hearing, Majid Tavakoli was tried and sentenced to eight and a half years in prison and a five-year ban from political activities and foreign travel.
Tavakoli was arrested on December 7, 2009 as he was leaving Amir Kabir University after giving a speech to the students who had gathered for the Student Day protests. In Janyary 2010 Majid Tavakoli’s sentence was announced: Eight years and six months he is to serve in prison.
1. Five years for participating in an illegal gathering
2. One year for propagating against the regime.
3. Two years for insulting the Supreme Leader
4. Six months for insulting the President
5. Five years ban from any involvement in political activities.
6. Five years ban from leaving the country
Majid Tavakoli has been arrested twice before. He was first arrested in 2007, and he spent 15 months in prison under physical and mental torture. He was later acquitted from the charges related to publishing a student newsletter. He was arrested the second time in March 2009 during a memorial ceremony held for Mehdi Bazargan, the first Iranian Prime Minister after the 1979 revolution. He was released after spending 115 days in solitary confinement in ward 209 of Evin prsion and posting a pricey bail.