Iranian Student Dissident Dies in Prison Following Hunger Strike

Published July 31, 2006

| Associated Press

A student leader arrested in 1999 for his role in anti-government protests has died in prison, a human rights activist said Monday.

Akbar Mohammadi died late Sunday "after a nine-day hunger strike," said Kohyar Goodarzi, a member of the Student Committee of Human Rights Reporters of Iran.

Mohammadi took part in anti-government protests at Tehran University in July 1999 — the country's biggest domestic crisis since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

CountryWatch: Iran

He went on a hunger strike to protest lack of proper medical care for his spinal cord injury, Goodarzi said.

"His spinal cord was damaged in prison after he was arrested in 1999 and doctors suggested that he should seek treatment abroad," he said.

"Last year he received a one-year medical leave but two months ago, during his leave, he was arrested without any explanation," said Goodarzi. "He suffered a heart attack as a result of his [hunger] strike."

Mohammadi was sentenced to death after his arrest in 1999 but later this sentence was reduced to 15 years in prison.

Senior prison official Sohrab Soleimani said Mohammadi was receiving appropriate medical care in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

"He was drinking water and tea and was under doctors' supervision," the semiofficial Islamic Students News Agency quoted Soleimani as saying.

Some 25 Iranian political activists and prisoners issued a statement blaming the government for Mohammadi's most recent arrest. "Those who returned him to the prison should be held responsible," read the statement, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press.

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