Iran: Prisoner on Hunger Strike Sends Solidarity Message to Gaza, Palestine

Atefeh Rangriz is a writer and activist in Iran who was arrested in 2019 during a May 1st International Workers Day public gathering in Tehran, and was sent to the notorious Gharchak women’s prison. 

Rangriz launched a hunger strike on October 18 to protest her prolonged detention and abuse in prison as well as the harassment of her family. In a statement during her hunger strike she expressed “I will turn my body into a weapon against all the oppression we’ve been through”. She received 11 years prison sentence but was able to secure her own release on bail. 

On September 10th, 2023, as part of the wave of mass arrests ahead of the anniversary of Jina Amini’s death in custody by the state, Rangriz was re-arrested and was sent to Shahrud prison.

Since October 18th Rangriz has begun another round of hunger strike. This time her hunger strike has coincided with Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Below is a the transcription of her audio solidarity message to the people of Gaza and the broader Palestinian liberation movement:

“For Palestine, us, and our resistance. Oh, Palestine, occupied county, land of the olive trees and winds of resistance. I write to you even though my hands are tied. We learned about resistance from you a long time ago. [We learned] That resistance is life and never ending. And we have continued, and will continue, this path in the Jin, Jiyan, Azadi revolution. Oh, people of Palestine who are bombarded with fire. We will neither forgive nor forget. We are, and will remain, seekers of justice. 

Yes, we know very well that in occupied lands, our fire is a fire of joyful rebellion and fire of Shakarimis*, fire of ‘yes’ to life and ‘no’ to everything that is reactionary, and burning it. Our fire is a ‘no’ to everything that cuts life’s umbilical cord. But their fire is the fire of genocide, child murder, atrocity, prosecution, war and execution. 

Yes, they are the ones who belittle our message, who draw their swords to spill our blood. Oh, Gazan child, our scream for your blood is not different from our scream against those who have our blood on their hands. But since I believe that resistance is life, I know that the day will come that our lands will be liberated, and we will still scream at them and tell them to go live and die anywhere else, but not among us. The time has come for them to leave us alone because we have a lot to do and must start doing what we’ve been prevented from doing. Here we have the history and the sound of first cries at birth. Here we have today and the future, and our world and our destinies. We will tell them to get lost from our lands, from our land and our sky, our bread and our scars, our everything and our memories.

Long live Palestine. Long live everyday resistance. 

Shahrud Prison, October 20, 2023”

* Nika Shakarami is a 16 years old martyr of the Jin Jiyan Azadi uprising in Iran who went missing on September 10 during street protests. Her dead body was found at a morgue in a police station 10 days later. 

Poster created by GPAC using art originally created by Palestinian artist Nabil Anani

Prison Resistance Highlights From Around the World: Middle East / West Asia

As we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of Attica Prison Rebellion, we will be sharing examples of prison resistance from around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. The goal is to highlight the ubiquitous struggles against carceral tools of oppression. We’re starting with Middle East / West Asia following the escape of 6 Palestinian prisoners from Gilboa Zionist Detention Center. While we do not attempt to produce a comprehensive list, here are selected examples of prison resistance from the region (please send us other examples and more extended analyses to share!): 

Middle East / West Asia


On September 6 this year, 6 Palestinian prisoners escaped through a tunnel from the high-security Gilboa prison near Jenin. Most have spent 20 years or more behind bars serving life sentences. Following the escape, the Israeli Prisons Authority has imposed punitive measures on Palestinian detainees, banning lawyers and family visits. 

From:; Credit: AFP

Iran / Ahwaz – Khuzestan

On March 30-31, 2020, security forces used excessive force to quell protests in Sepidar prison and Sheiban prison in the city of Ahwaz, Khuzestan province after some inmates set rubbish bins on fire. The protests in Sepidar prison appear to have started after authorities reneged on earlier promises to release prisoners whom the authorities did not have security concerns about as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Amnesty International estimated that 21 prisoners were killed. 

Iran / Eastern Kurdistan

Over 80 prisoners escaped from a prison in the city of Saqqez in Iran’s Kurdistan province on March 27 following riots due to growing concerns among inmates about the spread of coronavirus in the prison. Mostafa Salimi, one of the escapees, was subsequently arrested by authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan and extradited to Iran where he was executed. The 53-year-old was arrested and sentenced to death in 2003 for “waging war against God” and being a member of a Kurdish opposition group. 


Riots erupted in at least two overcrowded Lebanese prisons in March 2020 as inmates demanded to be released over fears the coronavirus outbreak would spread rapidly among them. Security forces reportedly responded with live fire, wounding at least 2 in Roumieh prison. In addition, dozens of inmates at the Zahle prison went on a hunger strike in order to demand an amnesty. 

Lebanon’s largest prison Roumieh. Credit EFE.

Turkey / North Kurdistan

The indefinite-rotating hunger strike launched on November 27, 2020 by Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey’s prisons against the isolation of Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan in Imrali island still continues and is on day 285 . The prisoners have increased the shift of days from 5 days to 15 days as of 14 July and the 50th group is now fasting. Ocalan has been in solitary confinement since 1999 when he was captured by the Turkish state, with extremely limited access to visits and lawyers.

Day 285

Pakistan / Sindh Province

In June 2020, prisoners in Pakistan’s south Sindh province lodged a protest and held four policemen hostage after their seven inmates were tested positive of COVID-19. They demanded that the authorities let them maintain social distancing by allowing them to move out of their barracks. ​​A heavy contingent of police was called in to manage the protest, and the hostages were released after a discussion between police and the prisoners.

In solidarity with the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons!

Over the past few days, the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons have been protesting in Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. The VBMP is a collective of families of Baloch who have been abducted over the past many years. There is overwhelming evidence that Pakistani security forces – the Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies – are behind industrial-scale enforced disappearance, running into the thousands.

The disappearances began after George W Bush first demanded the military regime of Pervez Musharraf to deliver suspect militants. Since then, the Pakistani military state expanded disappearances, targeting especially critics of military violence, especially from Pakistan’s racialised and marginalised groups, including Baloch, Pashtuns, Sindhis as well as members of various political groups. Enforced disappearances in Pakistan’s southern province of Balochistan increased after a 2014 investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, eerily mirroring the violence perpetrated by China against Uighurs in “Xinjiang.”

The geographies of military and police violence against Baloch extends well beyond Pakistan. In Iran too the Baloch community has been a persistent victim of extrajudicial killings, executions and forced disappearances. In recent months the Iranian state has intensified this campaign and since mid December 2020 at least 24 Baloch prisoners have been executed. Several Baloch prisoners are currently in death row and remain in imminent danger of execution despite statements by the UN and Amnesty International. The recent rise in executions led to the popular social media campaign #StopBalochsExecution.

At the Global Prison Abolitionist Coalition we stand in solidarity with the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons as well as the many other movements against enforced disappearances in Pakistan, like the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, the Missing Persons of Sindh and Defence for Human Rights.

How Can Current Struggles in Lebanon & Iran Come Together in a Revolutionary Socialist Direction? Statement from Alliance of MENA Socialists

It is not enough to speak out against the corruption of the Lebanese and the Iranian governments and demand efficient management.  It is not enough to speak out against privatization.  It is not even enough to expose these states as exploitative capitalist and authoritarian.   It is evident  that  Iran’s militarized and religious fundamentalist  state capitalism plays an important role in promoting the suffering of the people in the region,  including Syria,  Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.     Lebanon,  despite being perceived as a “democracy’,  has been very quickly entrenching the authoritarian aspect of its regime through state and militia crackdowns.

While acknowledging this reality,  what we need , are active forms of solidarity between the current mass protests in Lebanon and the labor struggles in Iran.  We also need active solidarity between feminist activists in both countries.   Our respective struggles need to clearly spell out radical goals that go beyond simply opposing the current political system.  We need to explicitly state that without a fundamental transformation in labor conditions,  without ending the dehumanization of women,   without ending the Kafala system in its variety of forms,  without ending anti-Black racism, without ending  discrimination against Kurds and other oppressed minorities including sexual minorities,  and without preserving and detoxifying our environment,  we will not move forward.

Read the full statement on the website of the Alliance of MENA Socialists.

Gunning Them Down: State Violence against Protesters in Iran

May 2020, A report from Center for Human Rights in Iran

Click here for full report.

In November 2019, mass street protests broke out in hundreds of cities and towns across Iran. Initially triggered by a state-imposed gasoline price hike that month, the unrest was more broadly a reflection of long-building societal frustrations over worsening economic conditions, governmental mismanagement, corruption and political repression in the country.

The violence of the state’s response – indiscriminate firing of live ammunition into crowds of civilians which resulted in at least 304 deaths (with many documented shots to the head, neck and chest, indicating lethal intent), untold injuries from gunshots, tear gas and beatings, and more than 7000 arrests in the span of roughly a week—represented a level of state violence not seen in Iran since the 1980s. In addition, a state-imposed shutdown of the internet in Iran for approximately one week and a news blackout allowed this violence to be carried out away from public scrutiny.

Protests flared again less than two months later, in January 2020. This unrest was fueled by outrage over the Revolutionary Guards’ shooting down of an Ukrainian passenger flight on January 8, 2020, which killed all 176 people aboard—and the government’s admission of the downing only after three days of public denial.

Coming only days after 56 people died in a stampede at a badly managed funeral for Iranian General Qasem Soleimani on January 7, the protests reflected public fury at the government’s incompetence and lack of transparency, even though many in the nation had briefly united against the killing of the General by the US days earlier.

The January protests were also quickly crushed by the state by mass arrests and violence that included the firing of pellets and other unknown ammunition at protesters, the use of tear gas and water cannons, and beatings of protesters by security agents.

These protests were in essence a continuation of unrest that had begun in Iran in December 2017, which differed significantly from previous protest in Iran. Up until that point, protest had certainly been an enduring feature of the Islamic Republic’s political landscape. Despite the government’s intolerance of dissent and the ever-present risk of state violence, arrest and imprisonment, protest had persisted—by students, including major protests at universities across the country in 1999 and 2003; by massive numbers of citizens who demonstrated against the disputed presidential election results in 2009; by women (and men) against forced hijab; and by steel workers, teachers, heavy machinery workers, bus and truck drivers, railway workers, nurses, sugar mill workers, bazaar merchants, petrochemical workers, farmers and many others in continuous labor protests over the last few decades.

Yet the unrest that broke out across Iran in December 2017 was different; it was diffuse, unorganized, leaderless and less focused on specific grievances. These protests grew quickly in number and participants to encompass hundreds of cities and towns across the country, with protesters voicing a fundamental rejection of the country’s political and economic system. Expressing rage over economic hardships and inequities, these protests were prevalent in working class areas in the provinces that had previously been a strong base of support for the Islamic Republic, and included large numbers of young men who had left drought-stricken smaller towns for provincial cities where they were typically unemployed.

The unrest continued into January 2018, until the state’s crackdown, which included mass arrests and the widespread beating of protesters and detainees by security agents, as well as a brief (approximately 30 minutes) shut down of access to the global internet, seemed to somewhat quiet things down.13 Yet protests continued sporadically throughout 2018, for example by farmers14 over severe water shortages that summer in areas hit by drought and environmental mismanagement, by workers15 protesting unpaid wages and the imprisonment of their labor leaders, and by merchants of the bazaar16 —until November 2019, when mass protest began again across the country.

In the following report, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has detailed and documented the state response to these latest two clusters of protest—November 2019 and January 2020—which were both characterized by extraordinary and lethal state violence, massive arrests and detainments, blatant due process violations, the muzzling of the press and prolonged internet shutdowns.

In addition, there have been widespread reports documented here through firsthand accounts obtained by CHRI, that officials refused to notify families of those detained, injured or killed, and refused to release the bodies of those killed to the families until either payment by the families was made and/or pledges made by the families not to speak to the press or hold mourning ceremonies, and to bury their dead quietly in ceremonies and cemeteries dictated by the state.

Throughout there has been a complete lack of transparency, which has meant that there is still significant uncertainty regarding the number of deaths, lack of information on the number of injured (other than credible and consistent reports that hospitals were overflowing with the injured), and little information on the actual number of arrests, the number of people who remain in detention, their condition and the state of their cases. To date, the Iranian government has issued no official numbers on any of the above.

In addition, as of this writing there has been no accountability for the deaths or injuries that occurred during the protests. Even regarding instances in which credible reports indicate that unarmed civilians were chased by security forces, cornered, fired upon and killed, there has been no independent investigation or actions taken to determine and enforce accountability.

CHRI has based this report on dozens of firsthand accounts and interviews with eyewitnesses, victims, their families and lawyers and verified photos and video obtained from eyewitnesses on the ground in Iran, during the period from November 15, 2019 through February 2020, and desk research that included extensive review of Iranian media, both traditional and social, review of Iranian government, parliamentary and judicial decisions and statements, UN assessments and statements, and reports by other reputable and trusted human rights organizations to corroborate and supplement our findings.

Full report >>

Open letter defending Kurdish women political prisoners

Golrokh Iraee’s letter from inside the Varamin-Qarchak prison; the pressures on #Zeynab Jalalian continue.

Originally published by The Alliance of Middle Eastern and North African Socialists

Zeinab Jalalian is one of the longest serving political prisoner in Iran. After enduring years of incarceration and torture in several prisons and detention centers, she has been transferred from Khoy prison- which is close to her home and family – to Varamin- Qarchak prison, and has been put under pressure by the security forces.

During her long years in prison, Zeynab Jalalian has resisted all the tortures and refused to give in to the dictated confession coerced by security forces.

This unexpected transfer of Zeynab after years of imprisonment, as well as the transfer of another Kurdish political prisoner Sakineh Parvaneh to Varamin-Qarchak prison, has been used as a tool to increase the pressure on them.

After being transferred, with the aim of pressurizing, Sakine Parvaneh was taken to Aminabad psychiatric hospital for several times and has been beaten. This is an obvious violation of human rights.

This vindictive action committed by security organizations shall be condemned, it would be a crime to remain silent about it, and places a big responsibility on the shoulders of the ones who claim to care.

Zeynab Jalalian is not only a person or a prisoner, but is “the lost meaning of real struggle” in the current banal political atmosphere of Iran.

She is a teacher of the alphabet of “freedom struggle” and the embodiment of resistance, who has been forgotten by both friends and enemies.

May the memory of Farzad Kamangar (beloved Kurdish school teacher)  last forever, as we are in the 10th year of his execution. May the path of the freedom fighters continue, who were never deceived by the promise of name and power. Although they have risked their lives, or subjected their bodies to torture and persecution, they have never given up the struggle in exchange for personal interests or greed.

Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee/

May 8, 2020

Varamin-Qarchak prison