Iranian blogger Vahid Sayyadi Nasir, a 28-year-old estate specialist and social media activist, died in prison on December 12, 2018, following a 60-day hunger strike. He was charged with “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” and sentenced to 5 years in prison over social media posts deemed to be critical of the regime. He was released in March, but was later arrested again in July, while reportedly being denied legal counsel.
Nasir initiated the hunger strike on October 13, 2018 , to protest against the denial of legal counsel and the inhumane conditions that he was subjected to at Iran’s Langroud Prison in Qom where he was being held.
Center for Human Rights in Iran quotes Nasir’s friend:
“Vahid’s condition got worse as the days went by and when I asked him to end his hunger strike, he said several times that he was serious and would not stop until his demands are met, even if it was going to cost his life. He insisted that the Intelligence Ministry and the judiciary are responsible for his life. He was right. He really put his life on the line.
A month after his hunger strike, Vahid contacted me and said his body was no longer able to absorb liquids and it caused him to vomit. Once or twice he was transferred to a hospital to get treatment for bleeding in his stomach but the authorities didn’t inform his mother or other relatives. In his last phone contact in late November, he didn’t have the strength to talk. He said he didn’t understand why the authorities were bent on keeping him there [in Langroud Prison and insisted that he was determined to sacrifice his life. I begged him to break his strike but he refused. He said: ‘I will either get my demands or leave my corpse for the Intelligence Ministry'”
Earlier this year, jailed Iranian Web Designer, Saeed Malekpour, suffered heart attack while imprisoned in notorious Evin prison, indicating the harsh conditions that prisoners are subjected to in Iran.
According to Freedom House’s Freedom of the Net report for the year 2018, Iran is marked as ‘Not Free’. Political and social content is being blocked and bloggers are being arrested for online expression. According to the report, during anti-government protests in January 2018, the government blocked access and data outside Iran, slowed down Internet connections and blocked social platforms Telegram and Instagram. Regulations introduced in August 2017 demand social media messaging apps to “work with Iranian authorities to obtain licenses”, obligating them to move their data centers into Iran.