Kurdish woman political prisoner Mozhgan Kavousi has gone on a hunger strike on 16 May in Evin Prison of Tehran to protest against the discretionary treatments towards prisoners by prison authorities and the judiciary.

A source close to Kavousi spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) and said: “Ms. Kavousi has gone on a limited hunger strike after serving more than half of her two-year sentence. This time too, her protest is not for reasons of pursuing personal demands but is critical of the general treatment method towards prisoners by prison officials and the judiciary. The main objection is to the discretionary and unregulated treatment by judges in granting temporary leave to prisoners in accordance with the judiciary act regarding the fourth peak of the Covid-19.”

“Discrimination against prisoners’ rights to leave is due to the intervention of different judicial officers in each prisoner’s case, which is clearly a violation of the law and the rules governing imprisonment and the execution of prison sentences. Some prisoners, including Mozhgan Kavousi, do not benefit from temporary leave as it is not possible to carry out visits in person in the conditions created by the coronavirus [pandemic].”

The political prisoner had previously gone on a hunger strike in September 2020, and as a result, her illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, had intensified, leading to growing concerns about her current strike.

Mozhgan Kavousi, who is a Kurdish writer, was arrested by forces of the Intelligence Organisation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) at her family home in Nowshahr, Mazandaran province, on 18 November 2019, and was released on bail about a month later.

The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Nowshahr initially sentenced her to 69 months in prison, but the Court of Appeals of Mazandaran province increased the sentence to 76 and a half months.

In a text on her Instagram account on 6 March 2020, the political prisoner wrote: “The court rejected my objection and defence through my lawyer Mr. Mostafa Nili and agreed with the claims made by the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor of Nowshahr regarding the ruling of the court of the first instance.”

She further wrote that her imprisonment sentence for “propaganda against the state” was increased from six months to seven and a half months and her imprisonment sentence for “incite people to disrupt public order” was increased from 30 months to 36 months. She added that the sentence on charges of “membership in anti-state groups” has remained as 33 months.

According to Article 134 – the Law on Consolidation of Sentences – the highest given sentence is enforceable, and accordingly, Kavousi’s sentence was increased from 33 months to 36 months of imprisonment.

The writer was arrested on 19 May 2020 in Nowshahr to serve a three-year prison sentence and was sent to the city prison, but was transferred to Tehran’s Evin Prison a few days later.