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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Iran MPs stage hunger strike
By Sadeq Saba
BBC Iran analyst

A large group of senior Iranian MPs and liberal activists have begun a hunger strike in Tehran in protest at what they describe as the harsh treatment of political prisoners in Iran.

Detainees at Evin prison
The MPs say the prisoners are denied access to basic facilities
The activists say their aim is to highlight the plight of these prisoners in Iranian jails.

In their statement, the Iranian MPs said they had decided to go on hunger strike to protest at the violation of the basic rights of political prisoners in Iran.

They said prisoners were being kept under harsh conditions without access to basic facilities and with very limited visiting rights for relatives.

Unprecedented action

The MPs include the leadership of Iran's largest pro-reform party, the Participation Front, and the chairman of parliament's national security committee.

Dozens of liberal figures and former ministers have also joined the protest.

Abbas Abdi (left) and Behrouz Geranpayeh
The group particularly want to highlight the case of Abbas Abdi (left)
This is the first time that a group of senior MPs have gone on hunger strike to support political prisoners. One deputy said he was ashamed of the treatment of political prisoners in Iranian jails.

They particularly want to highlight the plight of a prominent political activist, Abbas Abdi, who has been in detention for more than 10 months for publishing an opinion poll suggesting that the Iranian people favoured better relations with the United States.

International human rights groups believe that there are scores of political prisoners in Iran and they have repeatedly condemned the violation of the prisoners' rights in the country.

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