Iranian-British Woman, Jailed for Attempt to Watch Men's Volleyball, Goes on Hunger Strike

Ghoncheh Ghavami's arrest has angered Iranian women who say they are still waiting for the greater freedom promised by President Hassan Rohani.

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A protester holds up a picture of Ghoncheh Ghavami as Iran's President Hassan Rohani speaks with moderator Fareed Zakaria at New America, a public policy institute in New York, Sept. 24, 2014.
A protester holds up a picture of Ghoncheh Ghavami as Iran's President Hassan Rohani speaks with moderator Fareed Zakaria at New America, a public policy institute in New York, Sept. 24, 2014.Credit: AP

REUTERS - An Iranian-British woman has gone on hunger strike in prison in Tehran to protest against her arrest for trying to watch a men's volleyball game, the opposition website Kalame reported on Sunday.

Ghoncheh Ghavami's incarceration has angered Iranian women who say they are still waiting for the greater freedom promised by the pragmatic cleric Hassan Rohani when he was elected president last year.

Ghavami, 25, was arrested on June 20 outside Tehran's Azadi Stadium, where she was taking part in a demonstration demanding that women be allowed inside to watch Iran playing Italy in an international league match.

Iranian women in the Islamic Republic are banned from watching certain male sports events such as football and volleyball.

Ghavami was released soon after, but then re-arrested days later when she was called back to reclaim items that had been confiscated when she was first detained.

The human rights group Amnesty International says she has been held at the Evin prison, which has a reputation for brutality, and has spent time in solitary confinement.

Kalame said she had been on hunger strike for five days.

Britain has expressed dismay at her detention, which came just before the arrest in July of Jason Rezaian, an Iranian-American reporter for the Washington Post, and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, who had worked as a correspondent for the Emirati English-language daily the National. They are being held without charge.

Iran does not recognize dual citizenship, and treats dual nationals as Iranians.

Britain has had no permanent diplomatic presence in Iran since radical students stormed and looted its embassy in Dec. 2011, but has said it plans to reopen the embassy soon. The United States has no direct diplomatic relations with Iran.

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