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Theresa May must help UK citizens held in Iran’s notorious prisons

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UK Prime Minister Theresa May
UK Prime Minister Theresa May

By Allan Hogarth, Head of policy and government affairs, Amnesty International UK, The Guardian
Sunday, 17 July 2016

UK prime minster Theresa May. ‘[Her] new government needs to ensure that the plight of these and other detained British nationals in Iran are now made a key focus of the UK’s bilateral relations with Iran,’ writes Allan Hogarth of Amnesty International UK. Photograph: Euan Cherry/UPPA

Abbas Kiarostami’s death and the furore in Iran over whether patients are denied information over how ill they are (Death of acclaimed film-maker ignites row over secrecy in Iranian hospitals, 15 July) has an even darker side when it comes to numerous political prisoners being held in Iran. In places like Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, inmates are regularly denied urgently needed medical treatment as a means to pressure them into “confessing” to crimes or providing statements of “repentance”.

Even prisoners with very serious conditions like cancer or brain haemorrhages have been denied treatment for years on end. Our research shows that Iranian prison officials, doctors and prosecutors are all complicit in this abuse, which is tantamount to torture.

One such case is Kamal Foroughi, a 76-year-old UK-Iranian businessman who’s been held at Evin since 2011. Despite suffering from various medical conditions and needing specialised medical tests – including screening for cancer – Foroughi was denied medical tests for four and a half years.

Like Nazanin Ratcliffe-Zaghari, the UK-Iranian charity worker who’s been detained for 100 days and counting, Mr Foroughi appears to be a pawn in Iran’s ongoing diplomatic battle with the west.

Theresa May’s new government needs to ensure that the plight of these and other detained British nationals in Iran are now made a key focus of the UK’s bilateral relations with Iran.

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