Montrealers hold 48-hour hunger strike in support of Iranian prisoners

Montreal hunger strike highlights plight of Iranian prisoners
WATCH ABOVE: A group of Montrealers are staging a 48-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Iranian prisoners. The demonstration is about fighting injustices and supporting those who face oppression including, Homa Hoodfar, a Montreal professor who is currently detained in Iran on unspecified charges. Navneet Pall reports.

MONTREAL – The message that protesters holding a hunger strike outside of Concordia University want to send to the Persian government is that Iranian prisoners of conscience have allies.

Among them, is Quebec solidaire MNA, Amir Khadir.

“In the long term we have seen that these types of solidarity gestures have an impact, Khadir said. “And I hope they will have more so now that the Canadian government is in negotiations over opening embassies.”

The protesters are on their second day of a 48-hour hunger strike in solidarity with Iranian prisoners of conscience.

It’s part of an international protest in 12 cities. Other Canadian cities include Vancouver and Calgary.

The hunger strike is meant to be a show of solidarity with prisoners, who often have to take similar actions as a way of obtaining basic rights such as access to medical care, according to the protesters.

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Parzhad Torfehnezhad is a University of Montreal PhD student from Iran who has firsthand understanding of the oppressive nature of the current regime.

“If you were an alternative thinker, you’re not in agreement with the mentality and the ideology of the regime, you get marginalized and this happened to me,” Torfehnezhad said

The demonstration holds special significance in Montreal.

In early June,  retired Concordia University professor and Canadian citizen Homa Hoodfar, 65, was being held in Evin, a notorious Iranian prison, known for its practice of torture.

READ MORE: Canadian researcher held in Iran: Who is Homa Hoodfar?

Hoodfar, who was reportedly being investigated for dabbling in feminism and security matters, has since been indicted on unknown charges.

“Misses Hoodfar has [committed] no political action that could be subject to her detention. There has been a big mistake, this mistake has to be solved and I hope the Canadian government is putting maximum energy in obtaining ways to convince the Iranian government that there is no point in detaining her,” said Khadir.

READ MORE: Canadian professor Homa Hoodfar reportedly indicted in Iran

Khadir points out that businesses also have an important role to play, in monitoring human rights records, wherever they do business.

Last April Bombardier entered into negotiations with Iran to supply an airline with new planes.

“Business and democracy, business and human rights, and business and people’s rights should go together,” said Khadir. “We cannot accept that Canadian companies, oil, mining, Bombardier, big corporate business do business without taking into account the plight of the people.”

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Regardless of how widespread the problem is in Iran it’s important for these protesters to do their part.

“If the news goes to Iran, at least they could see they have our solidarity,” said Torfehnezhad.

The hunger strike wraps up Sunday at 6 pm.