Open Letter: Golrokh Iraee Champions the Healthcare Rights of her Ailing Husband

Posted on: November 14th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Civil rights activist and Evin prisoner of conscience Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee has written an open letter to protest the IRGC’s continued medical blockade on her husband, Arash Sadeghi, who has been effectively deprived of chemotherapy since undergoing surgery for chondrosarcoma on September 12th.

The full text of Iraee’s letter, translated into English by HRANA, is below:

Authorities have offered no explanation for blocking visits and phone calls between me and my husband Arash Sadeghi. Since December 2017, the only contact we’ve had is a two-hour visit. And that was five months ago.

I have heard many reports that Arash is faltering in his battle with cancer. Only two days after undergoing surgery for his condition, he was harried out of the hospital against medical advice by the Sarallah IRGC [based in Tehran and responsible for securing the capital city]. Mal-equipped to counter the progression of Arash’s disease, the Rajai Shahr Prison clinic abdicated responsibility for his post-surgery care. Despite an infection to his surgery site, authorities have denied his request to be transferred to a hospital.

Specialists have stressed that the next stages of Arash’s treatment will require chemotherapy, and the state physicians in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) prison have asserted their inability to administer or monitor this treatment. No action has been taken to hospitalize him so that his chemo can begin.

Arash has been detained multiple times. He lost his mother to a raid by regime agents. He was denied the right to continue his studies and has been stripped of his civil rights. Finally, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison without any proof or evidence [of a crime]. Now he faces the rancor and spite of the Sarallah IRGC.

Arash is being denied medical care, one of the most basic rights promised to prisoners in the laws of the Islamic Republic.

Throughout our prison terms, we never asked to be spared their spite, but this time Arash’s life is at stake. My worst fear has come true, and we are well past the tipping point; I don’t know to what extent Arash’s health can be restored.

In the present circumstances, laws that profess to protect prisoners are unveiled as masks of humanity, a farce for the international stage. Despotism can no longer contain the true motive of these laws, which rulers make no effort whatsoever to enforce.

We cannot expect humanity from those who have already proven devoid of it. What matters is the fleeting sands of time, the dissipating moment, the joy that seems a more distant dream each day.

I am certain that with each display of callousness towards his health, Arash will be all the more emboldened. He will do as he has done with every other injustice, coercion, and anguish: he will overcome.

I thank every friend and organization standing shoulder to shoulder with us, and am grateful for the dear comrades who have stood by Arash in Gohardasht. May conscience break dawn on the dark night of ignorance.

Golrokh Iraee
Evin Prison
November 12, 2018

____________________________________________________________________________________

Golrokh Iraee was arrested along with her husband on September 6, 2014. First held at an IRGC safe house for two days, she then spent 20 days in the solitary cells of Evin’s Section 2A, under IRGC jurisdiction, before being released on a bail of 800 million rials [approximately $19,000 USD].

On October 24, 2016, the IRGC arrested Iraee again without a warrant. She was sentenced to six years in prison for blasphemy and “gathering and collusion against the regime.” She was later granted amnesty per Article 134 of Islamic Penal Code, which reduced her prison term to 2.5 years.

Iraee’s husband Arash Sadeghi is serving a 19-year sentence in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr Prison.

Journalist’s Death Attributed to Travel and Healthcare Restrictions

Posted on: November 13th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – Hamid Houshangi, former journalist and director at the state-run news agency, IRNA, passed away Thursday, November 8th of cancer. He was 70.

At the time of his death, Houshangi was facing a two-year prison sentence. In a note published September 2nd of this year, Houshangi drew attention to a writ in which he was summoned to serve the sentence despite his diagnosis.

The cancer diagnosis came at about the same time as his prison sentence — ruled by Judge Moghiseh on October 2, 2016 — for charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “gathering and colluding against national security.” The sentence was upheld a few months later by Judge Zargar of Appeals Court Branch 36.

Referred throughout his cancer treatment to resources that could only be obtained abroad, Houshangi never broke free of a two-year stalemate with judicial authorities who refused to let him seek care outside Iran.

Houshangi started his journalism career with Iranian national radio and television in 1973.

Evin Prison Women’s Ward Denies Medical Care to Baha’i Negin Ghadamian

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Despite the blessing of Prosecution Assistant Rostami, Baha’i prisoner Negin Ghadamian is being denied extra-prison dental care for a severe gum infection, jaw pain, and toothache.

Prison authorities, including clinic head Agha Khani, have opposed Ghadamian’s medical transfer, insisting her treatment take place inside the prison.

The swelling population of the Women’s Ward places prisoners in increased medical precarity, as authorities — apparently arbitrarily — have barred external medical transfers almost entirely. An informed source told HRANA that prison dentistry relies on limited equipment, delivers mediocre care, and sticks patients with steep fees.

HRANA published a report on September 30th detailing the living conditions in the Women’s Ward at Evin. “Evin Prison dentistry operates in less-than-sterile conditions and exposes patients to remarkably high risk for infections,” the report reads. “Cavity fillings are expensive there, putting patients out as much as 20 million rials (approximately $114 USD) or preventing them, for lack of means, from getting the fillings they need.”

Security agents first arrested Ghadamian on May 24, 2011, after which she went free on 50 million tomans [approximately $12,000 USD] bail. In March 2012, she was sentenced in absentia by Judge Moghiseh on charges of “acting against national security through membership in the illegal Baha’i organization.” She was arrested at the airport on December 17, 2017, to serve her sentence.

Urmia Authorities Turn Deaf Ear to Prisoner Fighting Infection

Posted on: November 7th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- “What do you need an ear for?”, the Urmia Prison director said to Sadroldin Teymourpour, a prisoner complaining of an ear infection secondary to an assault by security agents.

Needless to say, Teymourpour’s request to be transferred to a hospital was not taken seriously.

Initially sentenced to death, Teymourpour is currently serving a commuted sentence of 30 years plus a 200-million toman [approximately $13,500 USD] fine.

Forcing ailing prisoners to make do with the short-staffed, underequipped prison clinic has led to multiple prisoner deaths. HRANA reported on a number of these fatal neglect cases in September 2018.

Zahedan Central Prison: 6 Untimely Deaths in 7 Months

Posted on: October 31st, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – A 50-year-old man died within a day of his arrival to Zahedan Central Prison on October 27th due to untreated gastrointestinal issues.

He was reportedly suffering from severe diarrhea when he was transferred from quarantine to Ward 6. He received no medical care and died later that night.

HRANA is in the process of confirming the identity of this prisoner, the sixth in the past seven months to die in the custody of authorities at Zahedan Central Prison.

Despite a dearth of medical staff, supplies, and equipment, Zahedan Central has been reluctant to transfer prisoners to outside hospitals, even when that transfer is a matter of life or death.

[Counting from March 2018, the Iranian New Year], this deceased prisoner was preceded in death by the following five Zahedan inmates:

· Abdolnabi Saresi, died September 28th of an untreated illness
· Gholamreza Goul of Ward 6, died September 15
· Ramin Dokaleh of Ward 1, died May 31st
· Gholam Nab Reigi of Ward 5, died May 29th
· Nasir Zoraghi of Ward 8, died in May of untreated cardiac disease

Zahedan is the capital of the Southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and home to the Baloch ethnic minority.

Evin Prosecutor Gives Silent Treatment to Prisoner With Multiple Illnesses

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) – The condition of Evin prisoner Alireza Golipour has significantly declined over the course of his prison sentence, his lawyer Azita Gharebeygloo told HRANA.

Statements from the prison’s medical team — that effective treatment will not be viable inside the prison — were confirmed by the Medical Commission’s opinion that an extra-prison medical transfer is in order, Gharebeygloo said.

Less clear, however, is whether or not this urgency will resonate with the judiciary.

“The commission’s report was announced to the prosecutors, but they have yet to give us any response,” she said.

In an interview with HRANA this past March — when Golipour was suffering from epilepsy, heart disease, and a lymph node infection, all exacerbated by his hunger strike — his attorney was already pressing for him to receive specialized care.

On March 2nd, the head of Evin’s prison clinic assessed Golipour to be in critical condition after he suffered a mild heart attack and consented to a medical transfer on the condition that it be cleared by the prison’s supervisory prosecutor. The prosecutor has yet to consent.

A group of Evin prisoners later addressed a letter to prison authorities imploring them to arrange for Golipoor’s treatment.

Zahedan’s Political Prisoners Suffer Cold, Hunger, Harassment

Posted on: October 30th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- The political prisoners in Zahedan prison continue to endure mistreatment at the hands of personnel, the harassment of their families by authorities, malnutrition, medical negligence, arbitrary restriction on furlough, and the temperature extremes of an overcrowded prison without climate control.

Constructions and repairs on two wards have dragged on since last year and exacerbated overpopulation concerns at the prison, where many inmates spend nights on their floor.

A close source said that visiting-room personnel and the supervising judge’s office are not above disparaging prisoners’ visiting kin, and cited the judge’s secretary as having particularly hostile conduct toward guests. The visiting-room personnel reportedly condone a guest-inspection protocol that is forceful and intrusive enough to have dissuaded a number of family members from returning.

Dejected at the mistreatment of their family members, some prisoners suffer from mood disorders, declaring hunger strike or attempting suicide.

“Some of the prison staff, like Haji Keykhah, get promoted every year despite mistreatment of prisoners and histories of sexual misconduct,” one Zahedan prisoner, recently released after 20 years, told HRANA. “Khalili [former personnel] and Mohsen Khajeh are two authorities who instigate fights between prisoners and staff. Each has their own group of cronies who smuggle narcotics into the prison.”

Many inmates in the political ward are denied furlough despite being lawfully eligible to take it. Inspector Ghouchi, a prison quartermaster, reportedly uses the promise of furlough to extort desperate prisoners.

As winter closes in, a lack of heating equipment has made the life unbearable for prisoners, some of whom went to lengths to purchase their own heating units — only to have them confiscated by prison authorities, who repurposed them for their own use in administrative offices.

Any of Zahedan’s 3,000 inmates desiring medical care must get in line to see a generalist for the 20 minutes they swing by the prison each day. A psychiatrist visits twice monthly for an equally narrow time frame, while dentists or ophthalmologists aren’t brought in at all.

A recently-released prisoner who worked at the cafeteria and prison shop told HRANA that the cafeteria staffs its kitchen with prisoners paid between 100 and 200 tomans [approximately $6 and $12 USD] per month, “resulting in very poor-quality meals.” The prison shop, stocking only laundry detergent and dishwasher liquid, offers nothing to supplement a hungry prisoner’s diet.

Zahedan is the capital of the southeastern province of Sistan & Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan and is home to Iran’s Baloch minority.

Sanandaj Prisoners Denied Medical Treatment for Serious Injuries

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- Sanandaj Prison authorities are denying medical care to three inmates in dire need of treatment and surgery.

Shahram Takhsa of Kermanshah, shot in the leg while running from police five months ago, has never been treated for his injuries. He has been transferred to solitary confinement since declaring a hunger strike in protest on October 10th. In response to his request for a hospital transfer, a judge reportedly replied, “As you stand accused of murder and will be probably executed anyway, treatment and transfers would be gratuitous.”

Omid Saeed Moucheshmi, held for financial crimes, is being denied treatment for fractured left fingers.

Gholamreza (aka Shouresh) Morovati has been denied transfer to the hospital for surgery since suffering an ACL rupture on July 30, 2018.

Sanandaj has not transferred any of its prisoners to outside health facilities for the past month and a half. As an excuse for denying such requests, authorities are reportedly falling back on the case of a prisoner who escaped whilst being transferred to Ghods psychiatric hospital 45 days ago.

Retrial Denied to Imprisoned Couple Struggling with Health Problems

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A request for retrial for a married couple imprisoned on political grounds has been denied for the second time by Branch 33 of Iran’s Supreme Court.

Hassan Sadeghi and Fatemeh Mosana, who have been tortured and incarcerated multiple times over the past four decades since the Revolution, are currently serving 15-year prison sentences; Sadeghi in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, and Mosana in Tehran’s Evin prison.

After being tortured by intelligence agents during an arrest, Sadeghi sustained eye injuries that have developed into secondary ailments, including glaucoma. His glaucoma-afflicted right eye may soon require surgery, but the advancement of his disease informs a poor prognosis. Though he has made an appointment with an ophthalmologist, he won’t be able to honor it: the prosecutor’s office refuses to issue Sadeghi the permit he needs to go there.

Sadeghi was first arrested in 1981 at the age of 16, and was tortured over the course of his six-year detention; the impact of multiple lashings ground a dent into his skull. Under psychological and physical duress, Sadeghi also developed an ulcer and gastrointestinal infection. Years later, gel insoles and orthopedic shoes help relieve the chronic foot pain caused by his torturers, who fractured his heel bone with repeated whips of a cable to the soles of his feet — yet the prosecutor’s office bars Sadeghi from even buying them himself.

Mosana, 41, was first arrested in 1980 at the age of 13. With her mother, she was charged with “Moharebeh” [enmity against God] and “Baqi” [rebellion] for membership in the opposition group MEK. Both served three years in prison; meanwhile, three of her brothers and a sister-in-law were executed for opposition activities.

Mosana suffered a leg injury while incarcerated in 2016 that required the application of a cast, a treatment that authorities delayed for two and a half months. After her complaints of chronic pain were ignored by prison staff, she was transferred to an outside medical facility where doctors diagnosed her with permanent tendon rupture.

Sadeghi was again arrested along with Mosana and his two children in February 2013 for commemorating his late father, an anti-regime activist. Authorities sealed Sadeghi’s home after the arrest and detained their 10-year-old daughter Fatemeh for three days. Their son Iman, 19 years old at the time, was in custody for a month and a half.

Sadeghi and Mosana spent a year behind bars before going free on bail. Judge Ahmadzadeh of Revolutionary Court Branch 26 would later order the couple to serve 15 years in prison and surrender their property, including their home and their shop. This sentence was later upheld in appeals court.

Mosana was detained September 30, 2015, to begin serving the 15-year sentence. Her husband was arrested in turn while visiting her in Evin prison on February 7, 2016. Their children, now aged 26 and 19, are in the care of their elderly grandmother.

Motaleb Ahmadian, Political Prisoner Ailing with 22 Years to Go

Posted on: October 29th, 2018

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA)- A prisoner in his eighth year of a 30-year sentence is in urgent need of medical care.

Evin prisoner Motaleb Ahmadian, 31, suffers from orchitis [infection and inflammation of the testes]. The infection recently spread to his bladder, a close source revealed, adding that the diagnosis was confirmed during ultrasonography tests Ahmadian underwent while on transfer to Telaghani hospital. His illness requires treatments that would drain excess fluid from the infection sites; uncontrolled, an infection of this type could lead to cancer. He is currently on the prison doctor’s waiting list for a medical transfer to undergo surgery, which he must pay out of his own pocket at an estimated 20 million tomans [approximately $1,500 USD].

Ahmadian was convicted on multiple counts: Moharebeh [enmity against God] through membership in a Kurdish opposition group; illegal entry into the country while armed and supporting a military group; and aiding and abetting murder. The charges stem from armed clashes in Saghez in 2010 that resulted in the death of a policeman and a civilian.

In August 2018, Branch 1 of Kurdistan provincial criminal court sentenced Ahmadian to eight years in prison for “aiding and abetting murder” and ordered him to pay half of the murder victims’ “blood money” [a designated sum owed to the families of homicide victims]. He was given an additional year and fined 20 million tomans [approximately $1,500] USD] on assault charges. Initially ordered to serve his sentence in exile in the southern city of Minab, he was instead transferred from Sanandaj to Tehran’s Evin Prison for reasons that were not disclosed.

Ahmadian, a Baneh native, was originally arrested October 5, 2010, after which he spent 230 days in solitary confinement. On May 3, 201,6 he was transferred to Saghez Prison after another prisoner made statements linking him to a weapon that was found there. This charge held water for some time, despite the material implausibility of smuggling a weapon from Sanandaj, where Ahmadian was held, to Saghez, more than 120 miles away. He was eventually acquitted and transferred back to Sanandaj.

Further back, Ahmadian was fined 100,000 tomans [approximately $300 USD] and sentenced to a year in prison for illegal border crossings in 2008 and 2011.

Saghez, Sanandaj, and Baneh are located in the province of Kurdistan on Iran’s border with Iraq. It is home to Iran’s Kurdish minority.