Ehsan Mazandarani Starts Hunger Strike
Reformist editor Ehsan Mazandarani was shocked with a Taser stun gun while being returned to Evin Prison in Tehran by agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization on March 11, 2017, less than a month after he was released.
“Around noon an agent contacted him and said he wants to go inside Ehsan’s garage,” Sam Hosseini, Mazandarani’s brother-in-law, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “When Ehsan went outside to see what was going on, he saw several agents of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization, who then entered his home.”
“An argument followed, and one of the agents, who said his name was Mehdi Bahari, gave Ehsan an electric shock and dragged him away,” he added.
Mazandarani began a hunger strike to protest the “illegal, political and arbitrary action” upon entering the prison, said Hosseini.
“When the agents were asked why they were arresting Ehsan again, all they said was that there had been a mistake and he shouldn’t have been freed,” he said, adding that it was actually the IRGC who made the mistake.
Following his trial, Mazandarani was verbally informed that he would have to serve two years in prison, but says he received a shorter sentence—the one he actually served before being released—in writing.
“The first court sentenced Ehsan to seven years in prison and then he and his lawyer were told that the Appeals Court reduced the sentence to two years in prison,” Hosseini told CHRI. “But when Ehsan received the actual court ruling, it said he had been sentenced to one year, one month and 12 days.”
“Ehsan twice corresponded with Ms. Fattaneh Fattahi, the court’s clerk, and said that the ruling was different than what was told to him before,” added Hosseini. “She replied that the ruling was what it was.”
Before his arrest in November 2015, Mazandarani was the editor-in-chief of the reformist Farhikhtegan newspaper. He had not returned to work after his release, Hosseini told CHRI.
Mazandarani was released from Evin Prison on February 11, 2017 after serving a little over 13 months for “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state.” He was also banned from working as a journalist for two years.
In 2016, Mazandarani was hospitalized on at least two occasions to receive emergency treatment for the life-endangering health effects of the hunger strikes he underwent to protest his unjust sentence.
When the agents of the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization first arrested Mazandarani on November 2, 2015, they also arrested three other journalists: Issa Saharkhiz, Ehsan (Saman) Safarzaei and Afarin Chitsaz in the largest wave of arrests by the IRGC since 2009.
Marketing manager Davoud Assadi, the brother of Paris-based dissident journalist Houshang Assadi, was also arrested that day.