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Ahwazi political prisoner punished for prayer protest

Jailed Ahwazi Arab journalist Hassan Fallahiya has been punished by prison authorities for refusing to participate in Friday prayers.

Fallahiya is currently being held in Section 350 of Evin Prison which is notorious for torturing political prisoners. His family have been refused permission to visit him in prison due to his disobedience, reported the Human Rights Activists in Iran group quoting prison director Bozorg Nia.

The journalist has worked for Iran's Arabic language television station Al-Alam as well as Lebanon's Al Mustaqbal newspaper. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment in April 2006 over his work as managing editor of the now-banned Aqlam al-Talaba (The Students' Pens) publication, which was issued by Ahwaz University students.

Despite concerns for his health, Fallahiya has been defiant while in custody. He has written as series of appeals to the United Nations and the European Union for assistance as well as highlighting the persecution of Ahwazi Arabs. In a letter to EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana that was smuggled out of prison, he described his homeland as a prison and demanded support for Ahwazi Arabs' "legitimate national rights which are enshrined in international law."