Prepared to die, the anti-Iran regime hunger striker now unable to walk

Vahid Beheshti has not eaten in 57 days but is determined to continue as the prospect of death looms large

Vahid Beheshti said he is prepared to continue his hunger strike for more than 100 days. The National
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A hunger striker who has not eaten for two months is prepared to die in his attempt to pressure the UK to proscribe Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation, he told The National.

Vahid Beheshti, 45, is no longer able to walk after surviving for 57 days on a daily diet of water, coffee and a handful of sugar cubes.

The National has followed Mr Beheshti’s hunger strike since the early days of his campaign.

The human rights activist held up a card bearing the number 100 to make clear his intention to continue his fast for weeks to come.

He has yet to receive a reply from letters he sent to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak requesting a meeting to discuss his demands to have the IRGC placed on Britain’s list of terrorist groups. He warned of potentially fatal consequences if he does not achieve his outcome.

“I don’t know how long [Mr Sunak] will continue to ignore me and pretend I don’t exist but I can assure you I won’t go anywhere,” Mr Beheshti said. “This time he has to understand there’s going to be a price for him. Ignoring a citizen of this country has a price.”

Asked what he foresaw that price being, he replied: “It’s going to be my life.”

Downing Street on Wednesday said the prime minister had no plans to meet Mr Beheshti.

Mr Sunak’s reluctance to sit down with him “shows he doesn’t understand the meaning of democracy”, he said.

“Everything about this is against our British values of democracy,” he said. “Democracy, as far as I understand, is that the government should listen to the citizens.”

Born and raised in Iran, the activist and journalist was arrested by the IRGC twice before fleeing to the UK 24 years ago.

The British-Iranian citizen decided to go on hunger strike after he witnessed the Iranian regime’s attempts to silence freedom of speech in the UK.

Iran has plotted to abduct or kill at least 10 British citizens or people based in the UK, Britain’s domestic spy chief said last year.

Iran International, a television station that broadcasts stories critical of the regime, was forced to temporarily close its London office this year after journalists were threatened by the IRGC.

Mr Beheshti’s wife, Mattie Heaven, previously relayed to The National her fears for her husband's health.

He insisted he did not want to upset anyone but quitting or pausing his hunger strike would go against his conscience.

“I’m not here to hurt myself or hurt others’ feelings, especially the people close to me, family,” he said. “I’m here to raise awareness.

“Why I’m putting myself in this situation is for our safety and security,” he added.

He said he felt encouraged to see 125 MPs and members of the House of Lords put their names to a letter urging the prime minister to place the IRGC in the same terrorist category as Al Qaeda and Hamas.

He said it was amazing to see such strong cross-party support for his plea.

Farzad, who did not wish to give his surname, has been supporting his friend Mr Beheshti in his hunger strike since the beginning. But as they weeks drag on and he sees his fellow British-Iranian growing weaker, he is urging him to quit.

Speaking to The National, he said if the prime minister agreed to meet with the activist to discuss his cause it would go a long way to making him feel heard.

“I don’t think Vahid will back down. He won’t move an inch until the IRGC is proscribed as a terror organisation,” Farzad said. “But if the prime minister showed some empathy, that would give me some ammunition to say to him ‘you are being heard’ and to stop this.

“The prime minister needs to at least acknowledge his existence.

“The complete absence of the foreign secretary and the prime minister is a little bit embarrassing. James Cleverly is posting memes about the Simpsons on his social media. He has time but no time to acknowledge that there’s a man slowly going towards death.

“They want to ignore him until it goes away.”

The Foreign Office and No 10 Downing Street have been contacted for comment.

Updated: April 20, 2023, 10:02 PM