Prisoners of conscience could die in Iranian government jails
Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), its Iranian affiliate (the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights) and Reporters Without Borders firmly condemn the inhuman treatment that human rights activists, journalists, netizens and other prisoners of conscience are receiving in Iran’s jails.
The human rights situation in Iran keeps on getting worse. Suspicious deaths and mistreatment continue to be reported in the country’s jails, especially Evin and Raja’i Shahr. The lives of many prisoners of conscience are in danger. They include Narges Mohammadi, Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand and Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, who are all seriously ill. We call for their unconditional and definitive release. We urge the Iranian government to stop putting their lives at risk and we will hold it responsible for what happens to them.
A journalist and spokesperson for the Centre for Human Rights Defenders, Narges Mohammadi was arrested in the northern city of Zanjan on 21 April and was taken to Tehran’s Evin prison to begin serving a six-year jail sentence. Originally arrested at her home on 10 June 2010, Mohammadi had a nervous breakdown as a result of the pressure put on her during interrogation and was hospitalized with muscle paralysis after being provisionally released on 2 July 2010.
She was sentenced two months later to 11 years in prison on charges of collaborating with the Human Rights Defenders Centre, “meeting and conspiring against the Islamic Republic” and anti-government propaganda. The sentence was reduced to six years on appeal on 4 March 2011.
Her family was notified three weeks ago that she had been transferred back to the main prison in Zanjan. Her husband, fellow journalist, Taghi Rahmani, who finally fled the country earlier this year after being harassed for years by the security services, is very concerned about her health.
Her transfer to Zanjan was illegal and against her will. She is now being held with ordinary offenders. The transfer is also liable to exacerbate her medical condition. Access to treatment is limited in Iranian prisons, but especially so in provincial ones. “With each day that passes, getting medical treatment is more difficult or completely impossible,” Rahmani told the human rights organizations.
Former newspaper editor Mohammad Sedegh Kabodvand began another hunger strike two weeks ago in protest against the judicial authorities’ continuing refusal to allow him to visit his son, who is very ill and who is hospitalized in Tehran.
The onetime editor of Payam-e Mardom-e Kurdestan (a newspaper closed by the authorities in 2004), Kabovand has been held since July 2007. A Tehran revolutionary court sentenced him to 11 years in prison on 22 June 2008 for creating a human rights organisation in Iran's Kurdish
northwest. The prison authorities have also repeatedly refused his requests for medical parole for a heart ailment.
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a blogger and human rights activist who has been held since 13 December 2010 and who is serving a 15-year jail sentence, began a hunger strike on 26 May in protest against the denial of appropriate medical treatment. He has undergone two kidney operations but is not getting the medical care he needs and his life is now in danger. Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, the head of the justice system, ordered his hospitalization on 2 June but his family has been given no assurances that he will continue to receive treatment.
“The Islamic Republic is taking advantage of the tension in the region and its talks with China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States about its nuclear programme to divert attention from the gravity of its human rights violations,” the three human rights groups said.
“It continues to refuse a visit by Ahmed Shaheed, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran. Contrary to national and international law, there is no independent monitoring of Iran’s prisons and respect for detainees’ basic rights. The international community must make the Iranian authorities cooperate unconditionally with the UN and allow a visit by the special rapporteur.”