Shocking images have emerged purporting to be of an emaciated physician on a hunger strike while jailed in Iran for supporting women protesting the hijab law.
Swedish-Iranian Dr. Farhad Meysami, 53 — who began his hunger strike on Oct. 7 to protest the killing of demonstrators by the Islamic Republic — was purported to be the man seen in skin-and-bone photos that have gone viral on social media.
The startling images show him curled up on what appears to be a hospital bed and another standing with his ribs protruding.
But the Iranian judiciary denied that Meysami is currently on a hunger strike and claimed the images were actually from when he went on one four years ago.
The semi-official news agency Young Journalists Club posted what it said was Meysami’s latest photo — in which he does not appear skeletal and is seen in his cell with a bag of what looks like chips nearby.
Reuters said it was unable to confirm when the photos were taken.
Robert Malley, Washington’s special envoy for Iran, responded to the alarming photos by blasting Iran’s treatment of its political prisoners.
“Shocking images of Dr. Farhad Meysami, a brave advocate for women’s rights who has been on hunger strike in prison,” Malley said in a tweet.
“Iran’s regime has unjustly denied him and thousands of other political prisoners their rights and their freedom. Now it unjustly threatens his life,” he added.
Meysami has been in jail since 2018 for supporting women activists protesting against the headscarf policy.
In a letter published by BBC’s Persian Service, Meysami issued three demands: an end to executions, release of political-civil prisoners and an end to “forced-hijab harassment”.
“I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it may become possible later on with a collective effort,” he wrote.
The country has been hit with unrest following the Sept. 16 death of Iranian Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini while in police custody after she was arrested by morality police for flouting the hijab law, which requires women to dress modestly and wear headscarves.