Kurdish woman sews lips shut in Iran prison protest

Soheila Mohammadi, a mother who has served 3 years out of a 5-year sentence, reportedly launches hunger strike in protest of not being permitted furlough

Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
Illustrative: A prisoner being held in an Iranian prison. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

PARIS, France — A Kurdish woman jailed in Iran has sewn her lips together at the start of a hunger strike to protest not being allowed leave from jail, a rights group said on Sunday.

Soheila Mohammadi, who has served three years of a five-year term, took the action at her prison in the city of Urmia in northwestern Iran, the Norway-based rights group Hengaw said in a statement.

Arrested in the autumn of 2020, she was convicted of membership in the armed group Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), which pushes for self-determination for Iran’s Kurdish minority and is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in neighboring Turkey.

Hengaw, which focuses on Kurdish issues in Iran, said Mohammadi had not been granted a meeting with the regional prosecutor to ask for the furlough leave.

Mohammadi, a mother of one child, attempted suicide earlier this year by stabbing herself in the chest, according to Hengaw, which said her life was saved by intervention from fellow inmates.

Kurdish-populated areas in west and northwest Iran were among the regions most active during the protest movement that erupted last September against Iran’s ruling Islamic authorities, with hundreds arrested in the ensuing crackdown, according to rights groups.

The protests were sparked by the death in custody of Masha Amini, a young Kurdish Iranian woman who had been arrested in Tehran for allegedly violating the strict dress code for women.

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