Farhad Meysami

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Farhad Meysami (born November 17, 1969) is an Iranian doctor, teacher and civil activist. He believes in non violence and civil disobedience.[1] As of August 2018 he was serving a five year sentence for crimes such as “spreading propaganda against the system”.[2]

Background[edit]

Farhad Meysami graduated from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, and opted for a career in high school education. He later established a publishing company, Andisheh-Sazan, which grew in the late 1990s.[3][4] Andisheh-Sazan was particularly known to high schoolers for its test preparation books published for the Iranian university entrance exam (in Iran:Konkour). At the peak of its growth, Meysami shut down the company and engaged in human rights activism in Iran.[4] He was arrested on July 31, 2018, and has gone on a hunger strike since August 1, 2018.[5]

Detention and hunger strike[edit]

Pin-back buttons that have been "confiscated" from Meysami's library, with a Persian text on them reading "I do not agree with the compulsory hijab".

Meysami was arrested at his personal library and transferred to ward 209 of Evin prison in Tehran.[5] He went on a hunger strike on August 1 to protest against "unjustified accusations, the illegal procedure following his detention, and denial of his right to access an independent lawyer".[6][7] He was not able to publicly announce his hunger strike before the 19th day of his strike, as he was being held in solitary confinement until that day.[7] The allegation brought against Meysami is acting against the national security,[8] a rather common accusation against political and civil rights activists in Iran. Apparently, Meysami's support for the “Girls of Enghelab Street”—a series of protests against compulsory hijab in Iran— is being used to corroborate the charges against him. To provide the material evidence for the accusation the security forces have confiscated pin-back buttons from his library in Tehran. The pin-back buttons have “I do not agree with compulsory hijab” marked on them in Persian.[8][5][7][9][10]

Reza Khandan, a friend of Meysami's who had several phone conversations with him after his detention, published the following lines on his Facebook on behalf of Meysami, explaining the reasons behind his hunger strike:[11]

My hunger strike is out of respect for my own dignity and the dignity of those who have been detained on baseless accusations; those who are being interrogated while they have no access to a proper and legitimate legal representation. I will not, under any conditions, succumb to the demands of this illegal procedure.

Denial of the right to access a lawyer[edit]

Meysami was denied access to an independent lawyer. Arash Keikhosravi, an Iranian lawyer, was barred from registering as his lawyer due to the section 48 of the recently amended the Criminal Procedure Code.[7] Many Iranian prisoners have been affected by Section 48, including the prominent lawyer and human rights activist Nasrin Sotoudeh.[12] Section 48 states that those accused of national-security crimes must choose their lawyer from a single list of 20 lawyers picked by the head of the judicial system of Iran.[13] Human rights organizations have argued that it means there are only a few government picked lawyers who are allowed to represent political prisoners at court. This new policy gives further license to infringe on the rights of defendants.[5][14]

Hunger strike of Nasrin Sotoudeh[edit]

On the 25th day Meysami's hunger strike, his imprisoned friend and human rights activist, Nasrin Sotoudeh, went on hunger strike to support Meysami. Reza Khandan, husband of Nasrin Sotoudeh, published her open letter about the reasons behind her strike on his Facebook page:[15]

Dear fellow citizens,

After having arrested myself two months ago, the agents of the ministry of the national security have now arrested our fellow citizen Dr. Farhad Meysami. Furthermore, they have searched my house as well as my relatives’ and friends’ houses, seeking to “discover” and confiscate badges opposing the compulsory hijab. […] Until now, none of my correspondence with the authorities has led to any results. Therefore, I see no other option than entering on hunger strike from August 25th to protest against the arrest of and judicial pressure on my friends and family.

In hope of the establishment of law and justice in our dear country, Iran.

International call[edit]

On 24 October 2018, Amnesty International called on Iran to release Farhad Meysami immediately and unconditionally. Amnesty confirmed that he is being held in the medical clinic at Evin prison in Tehran against his will to pressure him into ending his hunger strike.[16]

Late November 2018, a group of UN human rights experts including Javid Rehman U.N. Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran and four others experts concern about Meysami's situation who has been on hunger strike since August.[17]


The US State Department also supported Farhad Meysami in a statement. Following US State Department support for Farhad Meysami, he wrote a sharp letter of criticism against US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Donald Trump administration:

"I would rather spend my whole life in the imprisonment of a group of oppressive compatriots and spend my life trying to correct their mistakes,but I do not want the support of those who, by turning their backs on all principles of law and ethics, have come out of the wise and peaceful the JCPOA agreement and impoverished millions of my compatriots by imposing inhumane sanctions. Of course, I thank all the human rights activists. But I urge Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Trump to shed their crocodile tears elsewhere".[18] [19]

In December 2018, Meysami was given a five year prison sentence, a one year restriction on his civil and political rights and a two year travel ban by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court,[20] for charges of “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security.” His sentence that was upheld on appeal in August 2019.[2]

On 14 October 2020 it was reported that he spent eight days in solitary confinement after contracting COVID-19.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "فرهاد میثمی", ویکی‌پدیا، دانشنامهٔ آزاد (in Persian), 2020-11-23, retrieved 2020-11-24
  2. ^ a b Lipin, Michael; Yazdiha, Elham (7 October 2020). "Source: Iranian Dissident Contracts Coronavirus in Prison". VoA News. Retrieved 23 January 2021.
  3. ^ "فرهاد میثمی، فعال مدنی و ناشر کتاب‌های کنکور بازداشت شد « سایت خبری تحلیلی کلمه". www.kaleme.com (in Persian). Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  4. ^ a b "ماموران وزارت اطلاعات دنبال پیکسل‌های اعتراض به حجاب اجباری می‌گردند". IranWire | خانه. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  5. ^ a b c d "Heavy Charges Against a Civil Activist for Protesting Compulsory Hijab". www.iranhr.net. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  6. ^ "Reza Khandan". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  7. ^ a b c d "Imprisoned Civil Rights Activist Farhad Meysami on Hunger Strike". Hrana - News Agancy. 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  8. ^ a b "AmnestyInternational on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  9. ^ "Mother of Detained Activist Hears Her Son Being Beaten Over the Phone – Center for Human Rights in Iran". iranhumanrights.org. 15 August 2018. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  10. ^ "Heavy Charges Against a Civil Activist for Protesting Compulsory Hijab". Iran HRM. 2018-08-23. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  11. ^ "Reza Khandan". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  12. ^ "Nasrin Sotoudeh's open letter on her refusal to attend court". NCRI Women's Committee. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  13. ^ "Want to Choose Your Lawyer? Good Luck in Iran". Human Rights Watch. 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  14. ^ "Lowering The Bar: Tehran 'White List' Excludes Most Lawyers From Politically Charged Cases". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Retrieved 2018-09-02.
  15. ^ "نسرین ستوده، وکیل زندانی، دست به اعتصاب غذا زد". صدای آمریکا (in Persian). Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  16. ^ "Iranian prisoner of conscience pressured to end his hunger strike". www.amnesty.org. 24 October 2018. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  17. ^ UN Experts Call On Iran To Guarantee Rights Of Detained Activists
  18. ^ "نامه انتقادی فرهاد میثمی؛ از قاضی صلواتی تا مایک پومپئو". BBC News فارسی (in Persian). Retrieved 2020-11-10.
  19. ^ "Iranian Activist Farhad Meysami Denounces Trump's Sanctions in a Letter From Evin Prison". IC Journal. 2019-01-06. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  20. ^ a b "FARHAD MEYSAMI HRD, TEACHER, DOCTOR". Frontline Defenders. 14 October 2020. Retrieved 23 January 2021.