Iran's national volleyball team trains at the Azadi sports hall in Tehran
Iran's national volleyball team trains at the Azadi sports hall in Tehran © Behrouz Mehri - AFP/File
Iran's national volleyball team trains at the Azadi sports hall in Tehran
AFP
Last updated: October 6, 2014

Jailed British-Iranian woman starts hunger strike

A British-Iranian woman imprisoned in Tehran after trying to attend a men's volleyball match has gone on hunger strike to mark her 100 days in custody, her mother said.

Ghoncheh Ghavami was arrested on June 20 near the Azadi ("Freedom" in Persian) stadium in the capital, where the national volleyball team was due to play Italy in a World League game.

She was released within hours but then rearrested a few days later. Iranian officials have since said that Ghavami, from London, was detained for security reasons unrelated to the volleyball match but no charges have been formally stated.

However, the 25-year-old, a law graduate, has decided to stop eating as a protest, her mother said in an emotive Facebook post late Sunday, which outlined fears for her daughter's health.

"Yesterday, I finally saw my Ghoncheh. She said she's been on a hunger strike since Wednesday. God, I can't breathe," Susan Moshtaghian wrote.

"She said that she's fed up with this 100 day uncertainty... I will not touch food either until the day that my Ghoncheh will break her hunger strike."

Ghoncheh's relatives have campaigned for her release on social media and have raised the case with Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The "Free Ghonche Ghavami" Facebook page features photographs of her against the slogan: "Jailed for wanting to watch a volleyball match."

"It's been a while that she has no more interrogations but her detention has not ended," Moshtaghian wrote.

"God, you've been my witness, I have remained silent for 82 days so that my innocent daughter returns home.

"She hasn't returned and now her life and health is in danger. I will no longer sit silently. God end this nightmare; give me strength to save the piece (sic) of my heart."

In Sunday's Facebook update, Ghavami's mother said there had been attempts to dismiss her daughter's lawyer, Alizadeh Tabatabaie, and to get her to accept new charges relating to her case.

Tabatabaie told AFP on Monday that he was barred from speaking to the foreign press.

Ghavami's arrest came after female fans and even women journalists were told they would not be allowed to attend the volleyball match.

National police chief General Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said it was "not yet in the public interest" for men and women to attend such events together. "The police are applying the law," he said.

Women are also banned from attending football matches in Iran, with officials saying this is to protect them from lewd behaviour among male fans.

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