Jailed Iran filmmaker in hospital

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Mohammad Nourizad, a conservative Iranian documentary maker who is in jail for writing critical open letters to the country’s supreme leader, was hospitalised on the sixth day of his hunger strike in protest at the mistreatment of political prisoners.

The 58-year-old prisoner, who is refusing fluids as well as food, was taken to hospital “by force” on Thursday morning, according to his website. His family, including three children, were arrested outside the notorious Evin prison where he is being kept.

Four other prisoners have gone on hunger strike, including Nasrin Sotoudeh, a female lawyer and human rights activist, in protest at what she considers her illegal detention in solitary confinement for more than three months. International human rights organisations have repeatedly warned Tehran over its poor treatment of prisoners.

Although the Islamic regime insists unrest after last year’s disputed election has been successfully curbed, politicians, university students and human rights activists continue to be arrested.

Meanwhile, security and police forces adopted tight security measures in Tehran on Thursday during Ashoura – the biggest festival of mourning to commemorate the martyrdom of the third Imam of Shias – after the same occasion last year turned into the most violent protest against the Islamic regime in three decades.

Mr Nourizad, who has become a symbol of the huge crack in the political establishment since the election, said in a letter last week that he hoped to die on Ashoura to “smash my corpse on the head of injustice”. He has rejected calls by opposition leaders, including Mir-Hossein Moussavi, to break his strike.

In December last year, he was sent to jail. Charged with propaganda against the Islamic system and insulting senior figures, in particular supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he was sentenced to three and a half years in jail and 50 lashes.

Mr Nourizad decided to go on hunger strike after two more years were added to his sentence in a second trial last week, conducted behind closed doors, where the judge allegedly called him an “alien puppet”.

Once a staunch supporter of Ayatollah Khamenei, he dramatically shifted his position after the election, lashing out at his policies even though such criticism is considered a strict taboo.

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