Detained Activist Sepideh Qoliyan Loses Consciousness During Hunger Strike

“Sepideh is very weak and fragile and can not walk,” her father says following visit

Hunger striking activist and freelance journalist Sepideh Qoliyan (also known as Gholian) lost consciousness in her cell on July 27, 2019, and was rushed to the clinic in Gharchak Prison, south of Tehran, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.

“Sepideh fainted in prison when her blood pressure dropped on the fourth day of her hunger strike and (her cellmate) Monireh Arabshahi took her to the prison clinic where she was injected with a serum and then returned to her cell in wheelchair,” an informed source told CHRI on July 28 on condition of anonymity.

On July 29 Qoliyan’s brother provided the latest update on her condition via a post on his Instagram account:

“Today, on the seventh day of my sister’s hunger strike, my parents went to Gharchak Prison to see her. At first, Sepideh in protest to her situation, didn’t want the visit to take place. Eventually she agreed when the prison head allowed my parents to see her in his office. My father says Sepideh is very weak and fragile and can not walk. They brought her to the meeting in a wheelchair. It was the most difficult day of my father’s life to see his daughter under such circumstances. My parents insisted she end her hunger strike but she refused and told them she shall continue at least until her scheduled trial date (August 3). During the visit, Sepideh only accepted to drink a cup of water with sugar because of my parents crying and worries.”

Sepideh Qoliyan was arrested in January 2019, after she publicly accused the authorities of torturing her during her earlier detention in November 2018.

On July 23, 2019, Qoliyan went on a dry hunger strike to protest her unfair judicial process and mistreatment in prison.

“Sepideh was detained because she took part in protests in support of Half Tappeh sugar mill workers and expressed her opinion about what happened to her and the labor activist Esmail Bakhshi, and she has been held for several months under the worst conditions,” said the source.

“The Intelligence Ministry agents once told Sepideh that her crime was worse than being a thief because she had  ‘stood up against our Holy State.’ But how could a 24-year-old girl be a threat to the state? What did she do wrong? She and her friends should not be treated like this for defending workers,” said the source.

Qoliyan was first arrested along with Bakhshi and other labor activists on November 20, 2018. About a month later she was released on bail and on January 5, 2019, she tweeted: “During Esmail Bakhshi’s arrest, I witnessed him being brutally beaten and when he was interrogated I saw him being humiliated…I’m ready to give testimony about myself and Esmail Bakhshi in any fair trial.”

Qolyian and Bakhshi were subsequently re-arrested on January 20, 2019.

The two, along with labor activist Ali Nejati, as well as labor affairs’ journalists Amirhossein Mohammadrifar, Sanaz AllahyariAli (Amir) Amirgholi and Asal Mohammadi have been jointly charged with “assembly and collusion against national security,” “forming groups with the intention to disturb national security,” and “contacts with anti-state organizations.”

Qoliyan and Bakhshi face additional charges of “disturbing public opinion” and “publishing falsehoods.”

The seven are scheduled to go on trial on August 3, 2019, in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran presided by Judge Mohammad Moghiseh.

Meanwhile Qoliyan’s brother, Mehdi Qoliyan, is going on trial in Branch 101 of the Revolutionary Court in Dezful on August 18, 2019, on charges of “assaulting law enforcement agents” and “disobeying orders from judicial representatives” in connection with a raid on his family home on January 20, 2019.