MORE than 20 prisoners in an Iranian jail, who have been on hunger strike for four weeks, have called for the international community to support their calls for justice.

The physical condition of many of the inmates, held in Gohardasht prison west of the capital Tehran, has been worsening and some can barely walk.

They called on their fellow citizens for support and to help them in stand up against alleged abuses in the “religious despotism ruling Iran”. The prisoners also urged international human rights bodies to visit political prisoners to work towards improving their treatment.

The hunger strikers said in a statement: “Close to four decades of repression and aggression and violations of our human rights has been going on.

“Right now, we and some of our cellmate brothers in prison over the age of 70 are witnessing a clear violation of the rights of prisoners of conscience and political prisoners and of the tyranny of the officials and heads of the judiciary, the intelligence and the guards of this regime.

“We defenceless prisoners, who have endured torture during the transition to solitary confinement with resistance and steadfastness,, are all united in this legitimate move.”

Prisoner Shahin Zoghi Tabar, who is among those refusing to eat, said in a letter: “I and the other political prisoners will continue our hunger strike until the last drop of our blood and until our demands are accepted.”

The hunger strike has gained support from inmates elsewhere, including Ali Moezzi, a political prisoner in Tehran’s Great Prison and Arash Sadeqi, a prisoner at Evin Prison.

Dr Majid Rafizadeh, a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist and foreign policy expert, told Arab News the strikes showed repression remains unchanged, and that the clerical regime is indifferent to human suffering as ever.

He said: “It goes without saying that the international community as a whole is better than this; but that community must act accordingly and intervene when Iran’s political violence threatens to claim new victims.”