More and more Iranian prisoners, including journalists, are risking their lives by going on hunger strike in protest against prison conditions or mistreatment, or simply to demand proper medical care.
Soheil Arabi, a citizen-journalist held since December 2013, has been on hunger strike for the past 25 days in protest against the way the Revolutionary Guard intelligence services have been harassing and threatening his wife, Nastaran Naimi.
Naimi was arrested at her home by plainclothes intelligence officers in July and was held for eight days. Since then, she has been constantly harassed and threatened, and was fired from her job at their request.
Arabi’s family say Arabi is now in a critical condition because he has not eaten anything at all since 23 September.
Mehdi Khazali, the outspoken editor of the Baran blog, was arrested on a Tehran street by men in civilian dress on 12 August and, according to his family, has been on hunger strike ever since the day of his arrest.
This was disputed by the Tehran prosecutor a month after his arrest. “He is not on hunger strike, despite what is claimed by the enemy media abroad,” the prosecutor insisted. “He is well and his family saw him last week.” This has not been confirmed by his family.
Ehssan Mazndarani, a journalist with the daily Farhikhteghan arrested in November 2015, is in very poor health but is still being held despite a regulation requiring the prison authorities to provide ailing detainees with the medical care they need.
His relatives say they are extremely worried about him because he can no longer even swallow water and the prison authorities are refusing to authorize a transfer so that forensic doctors can examine him.
RSF points out to the Iranian authorities that they are required to respect both Iran’s own laws and regulations* and the international standards** established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Iran has signed.
Iran is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index.
*According to Iran’s prison regulations, adopted by the judicial body that oversees the prison system, prison officials are supposed to provide detainees with any medical care they need. Articles 102 and 103 of the regulations say that “monthly medical checks are obligatory in the prison clinic” and that “if necessary, the detainee must be transferred urgently from the prison to the hospital.”These regulations also say that the judge in charge of the case is responsible for the health and safety of any prisoner with a serious and incurable illness.
**According the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which
Iran is party, depriving detainees of medical care constitutes a violation of the ban on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.