Iran: Prisoners of conscious, deprived of access to children and medical care

Apr 05
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Narges Mohammadi has been deprived of visiting her children for eight months
Narges Mohammadi has been deprived of visiting her children for eight months

By Staff Writer, Iran Probe
Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Amnesty International called for urgent action for two Iranian prisoners of conscience while they health is at stake and are suffering from severe illnesses. The Iranian authorities have deprived them of medical treatment.

Prominent human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Narges Mohammadi, is scheduled to go on trial on 20 April on charges including “spreading propaganda against the system” and “gathering and colluding to commit crimes against national security”, all of which stem from her peaceful human rights activism. Her court hearings have been postponed several times in the past months without any explanation provided by the court. She also faces a new charge of “insulting officers while being transferred to a hospital” in a separate case. This charge was brought against Narges Mohammadi after she filed a complaint with regards to the degrading and inhumane treatment she received by the prison guards when she was transferred to hospital for examinations, including their refusal to allow her a confidential consultation with her doctors.

Narges Mohammadi suffers from various medical conditions, such as pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in her lungs) and a neurological disorder that can result in seizures and temporary partial paralysis. In October 2015, she suffered several seizures which eventually prompted the authorities to allow her to be hospitalized. Her treatment was, however, disrupted as she was returned to prison against her doctor’s advice after 17 days. The authorities handcuffed her to the hospital bed for her first few days in hospital. They also had officers inside the room and at the door the entire time she was there, which is believed to have interfered with doctors undertaking examinations. The office of the Prosecutor General has been denying Narges Mohammadi the right to have access to her children for more than eight months. Her eight-year-old twins had to moved abroad to live with their father as there was no one to look after them in Iran. In February, she wrote an open letter to the Head of the Judiciary expressing concerns that the authorities were using her children in order to exert pressure on her. She also said, “The issue is very simple; I am a mother and I have a right to hear my children’s voice even if [this] mother has been found guilty in your opinion and that of the institution under your supervision.”

Iranian blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a prisoner of conscience, has been on hunger strike since 26 March in protest at the Evin Prison authorities withholding his medication, and his continued imprisonment. He has several illnesses, including kidney disease, gastro-intestinal, bladder, heart, and chest problems. He has only one functioning kidney and needs constant monitoring and regular specialized medical care outside prison. He has also been complaining of back pain. He was taken to a Tehran hospital on 5 and 9 March for tests, including an examination by an orthopaedic doctor, but was returned to prison without receiving adequate treatment on either occasion. He was not allowed to attend a hospital appointment for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. His health has deteriorated from being kept in prison, in poor conditions, without adequate medical facilities to treat him, and being denied the specialized care he needs continually. His health is so poor that even the prison doctors have advised that he needs to be treated outside prison. Hossein Ronaghi Maleki’s parents have travelled from their home in the city of Malekan, near Tabriz, East Azerbaijan province, to follow up on his case with the authorities, including a meeting on 27 March with the Office of the Prosecutor in Tehran. Their repeated requests for help have so far been ignored.

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Hossein Ronaghi Maleki had been arrested on 13 December 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in prison after an unfair trial, in which he was convicted of “membership of the internet group ‘Iran Proxy’”, “insulting the Supreme Leader” and “spreading propaganda against the system” in connection with articles on his blog. After his arrest, he was held for 13 months in solitary confinement in Section 2A of Evin Prison, under the control of the Revolutionary Guards, where he has said he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated: this included severe beatings by his interrogators, which apparently have contributed to him developing several medical conditions. He was pressured to make televised “confessions”. He was told in June 2015 that his sentence had been reduced to 13 years.

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