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Iranian Political Prisoners Denied Phone Calls, Told To Recant

Kouhyar Goudarzi

Kouhyar Goudarzi

A few hundred inmates at Tehran's Evin prison are reported to have been denied phone calls since 17 of them launched a hunger strike in late July, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

There are an estimated 200 political prisoners in Evin prison's Ward 350, many of them journalists, students, and civil activists who were arrested during the crackdown following the controversial June 2009 presidential election.

Seventeen of them went on a hunger strike in late July to protest what they called mistreatment by prison guards and the violation of their rights. Although the strike is over, the prisoners are still deprived of making phone calls to their families, the mother of one prisoner told RFE/RL.

Parvin Mokhtare, mother of hunger-striking human rights activist and journalist Kouhyar Goudarzi, told RFE/RL that the prisoners' families have no news about their children, even those who did not participate in the hunger strike.

She said prisoners have been told they will be allowed to make phone calls only if they write a letter of recantation.

It's unclear if the apparent ban on phone calls applies to all prisoners held in Ward 350 or political prisoners only.

According to the opposition Kalemeh website, the authorities have ordered prisoners to write a letter expressing remorse for protesting against mistreatment by prison guards and for launching the hunger strike. Prisoners have also been told to ask for forgiveness from prison authorities.