Mehdi Khazali, a prominent critic of the Iranian regime who was arrested by the security forces this week and sent to Tehran’s Evin Prison, has decided to go on hunger strike. Khazali’s hunger strike was reported by a number of reformist-leaning outlets in Iran. Mehdi Karroubi, Iran’s second-most prominent political prisoner, in a letter has urged Khazali to end his hunger strike. However, in the same letter Karroubi lambasted the repressive political situation in Iran where “discrimination and inequality” now rules.
Comment: Khazali is physician and a publisher and the son of an ayatollah who died in 2015. Unlike his pro-regime father, who both served in government institutions and was a diehard supporter of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the younger Khazali is an outspoken critic of the regime. Khazali has previously been arrested for criticizing the “hokumat” (ruling elite) in public letters to Khamenei. As punishment, his publishing house was shut down by the regime and he has been repeatedly arrested.
On this latest occasion, it appears that Khazali was arrested on charges of “spreading rumors ” about the January 8th death of Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Khazali has been making strong suggestions that the sudden death of Rafsanjani, a rival to Khamenei, was suspicious and implied foul play at the hands of the security forces that are loyal to Supreme Leader Khamenei. As has been the case before, Khazali will probably be released in the near future but he has once again managed to highlight the sinister political operations of the Islamic Republic.