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Iranian Families Again Refused Visit With Prisoners

Families of political prisoners gathered in front of Tehran's Justice Department on August 1
Families of political prisoners gathered in front of Tehran's Justice Department on August 1
An Iranian journalist says the relatives of 17 political prisoners in Tehran's Evin prison were refused a visit with their family members on August 2, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

The prisoners have been on a hunger strike since July 25 in protest of the poor prison conditions and what they allege is the violent behavior of the guards.

The refusal to allow the prisoners' relatives to visit comes after the families of the prisoners gathered on August 1 in front of the prosecutor's office and Tehran's Justice Department to demand that their jailed relatives' rights be upheld after a crackdown on the prisoner's the previous day.

Justice Department head Alireza Avaii guaranteed that the prisoners' rights would be observed, specifically the right to make phone calls.

A protest by the inmates was broken up by prison guards on July 31. As a result, many prisoners were transferred to solitary confinement and their family visits and phone calls were banned.

All 17 of the prisoners were jailed after the government crackdown following mass protests against the disputed June 2009 presidential election.

Faraz Saneii, a Human Rights Watch representative in New York, told RFE/RL that the protest by the prisoners on July 31 was in response to the harsh treatment the prisoners' families received when they attempted to visit the prisoners on July 25.

"The family members of these prisoners, in a letter addressed to Tehran chief prosecutor [Abbas Jafari] Dolatabadi, demanded the pursuance of this case and have warned him that if it is [not pursued] they will spread the news to foreign media and hold a hunger strike themselves," he said.

The "Kalame" website, which is close to leading opposition leader Mir Hossein Musavi, reported that as a result of the crackdown on July 31 five prisoners -- including Gholam Hussein Arshi, Zia Navabi, Majid Dori, and Ali Malihi -- were transferred to the prison hospital.

Peyman Karimi Azad, who suffers from diabetes, also had to be transferred to the hospital after losing consciousness, the website reported.

Fatemeh Adinvand, the wife of prisoner Abdullah Momeni, told RFE/RL that she was completely unaware of her husband's condition.

"They have shut down the telephone lines to Section 350 [of Evin prison] and since then we have not been provided any updates even upon consulting the prosecutor's office," she said.

Prvin Mokhtari, mother of prisoner Koohyar Goodarzi, told RFE/RL that conditions in Section 350 were abysmal.

"The prisoners are not being fed properly," she said. "The hygienic conditions are extremely poor, and they are not even allowed to be brought books, even though getting drugs there would never be a problem."

Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of opposition leader Musavi, has strongly condemned the prisoners' treatment and has demanded their release.