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Hunger Strikers Jubilant After Victory With AM-France-Iranians

January 14, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Children drew pictures proclaiming victory as Iranian refugees chanted and sang, ending Thursday a hunger strike that lasted 30 days and sent two strikers to the hospital.

″I am sick physically, but we feel great mentally,″ proclaimed a woman who had joined her husband and daughter in taking only tea and sugar as a protest against France’s expulsion last month of Iranian resistance members.

The strikers who remained shouted and applauded Thursday when word came of an agreement for the return to France of seven resistance figures who had been deported to Gabon, a spokesman said. The demonstrators had been staying in motorhomes across the street from the French Embassy compound.

The Washington group joined the deported members of the People’s Mujahedeen and other groups on hunger strikes in Paris and London.

Some had vowed they would starve to death unless the French allowed the resistance members to return.

Agreement was announced Wednesday, allowing seven refugees to return to France and eight others, including three Turks, to go to Spain.

The resistance had accused the French of making an ″ugly deal″ with the regime in Tehran to get French hostages released in Lebanon.

″This is a day of celebration,″ said a Mujahedeen spokesman in Washington, Amir Bolourchi, after the French government announcement.

He said one hunger striker was hospitalized Wednesday and another Thursday morning, leaving 23 to end the strike Thursday.

One striker, who identified herself only as Shirin, said the strikers would follow a doctor’s advice and resume eating gradually, taking only warm water, honey and lemon juice initially. She said she lost 25 pounds. Her husband and 18-year-old daughter also joined the strike.

″Reaching this accord and the return of the supporters is a very great victory for the Iranian resistance movement in the international arena and indicative of the discredited nature of the regime″ in Tehran, said Bolourchi.

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