Some Iranian Montrealers are staging a hunger strike in Montreal's downtown this weekend in support of political prisoners in Iran.

Parzhad Torfehnezhad is one of the people standing on the corner of Guy Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard without food for 48 hours.

He says it's nothing compared to the treatment of some people in his home country who can be tossed in jail for expressing their opinions.

"It feels really frustrating. I'm not happy that our government is treating their own citizens as such," Torfehnezhad said.

The hunger strike near Concordia University's downtown campus is one of dozens taking place around the world this weekend. 

Elahé Machouf, another striker, lamented that it took a hunger strike for the government to provide the basics, but said it was the only way for the political prisoners to get attention in Iran.

She spoke of another woman who didn't eat for 16 days just to be able to speak to her children on the phone.

Trade as diplomacy

In Montreal, the hunger strike hits closer to home for the city's Iranian population after the recent imprisonment of Concordia professor Homa Hoodfar.

Homa Hoodfar

Canadian-Iranian scholar Homa Hoodfar has been held incommunicado in Tehran's Evin prison since June 6. She is said to have been indicted by the Iranian authorities. (Canadian Press)

Hoodfar, an anthropology professor, was visiting family in Iran when she was arrested on unknown charges by the counter-intelligence unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. She been detained since June 6.

Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Iran four years ago, making a diplomatic solution tricky.

Quebec Solidaire MNA Amir Khadir, also an Iranian Montrealer, says trade may be the key to starting a conversation on the status of political prisoners.

Khadir gave Montreal-based Bombardier as an example, which is in talks with Iran to sell jets.

"We wish that even those who are in business, like Bombardier, take into account these matters," he said. "I'm pretty sure the Iranian authorities are sensitive because they're interested in doing business with Bombardier."

For his part, Torfehnezhad hopes he and his fellow hunger strikers will inspire others to press for justice.

With files from Shaun Malley