ASIA/IRAN – Iranian Christian prisoner goes on hunger strike

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Tehran (Agenzia Fides) - Vahid Hakkani, a Christian convert from Shiraz, went on a hunger strike, despite his poor health, to protest rejection of his conditional release appeal by jucidial authorities. Hakkani was arrested in June of 2013 with three other men, all sentenced by the Revolutionary Court. The penalty imposed on the four is three years and eight months in prison "for having attended house church gatherings, contacting foreign Christian ministers, and disturbing national security".
Hakkani began his hunger strike on March 20, although he suffers from a rather serious digestive system problem and has already undergone surgery.
As reported in a note sent to Fides by "Mohabat News", his health is deteriorating everyday and there is also the possibility that the prison authorities will transfer him to solitary confinement because he refuses to stop his hunger strike.
With the election of Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president new hopes were raised for improvement of religious freedom for non-Islamic faiths in the country. Ahmed Shaheed, "UN Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur on Iran", released a Report on March 22, describing the plight of religious minorities who still live in the country. According to the Report, at least 307 religious minorities were imprisoned in Iran for reasons of worship. Among these 136 Baha'is, 90 Sunni Muslims, 50 Christians, 19 dervishes and two Zoroastrians. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 02/04/2014)