Iran’s authorities endangering life of critically ill imprisoned activist by refusing hospital transfer
The Iranian authorities must immediately transfer Arash Sadeghi, an imprisoned human rights defender who ended his 71-day hunger strike yesterday, to hospital so that he can receive the urgent specialized medical care he requires, Amnesty International said today.
Arash Sadeghi went on hunger strike in October 2016 in protest at the imprisonment of his wife, the writer and human rights defender Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, who was jailed for writing a fictional story about stoning. After a global outcry, she was eventually released on temporary prison leave yesterday.
Arash Sadeghi was due to be transferred from Tehran’s Evin Prison to a hospital last night. However, reliably informed sources told Amnesty International that the prison authorities have refused to transfer him.
“The delay in transferring Arash Sadeghi to a hospital is cruel and degrading. His situation is critical and he must receive specialized, urgent and potentially life-saving treatment without any further delay. By failing to authorize his transfer to hospital the Iranian authorities are callously toying with his life and flouting their obligation under international law to provide him with access to adequate medical care,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Directory for the Middle East and North Africa.
Arash Sadeghi is suffering from multiple health problems and symptoms including inflamed and severely infected lungs, severe drops in blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting blood. Over the course of his hunger strike, he lost more than 20kg of his weight. Doctors have expressed concern about long-term damage to his kidneys and estimated that about 70% of his right kidney and 20% of his left kidney are not functioning.
Early this morning, he was transferred to the prison medical clinic after he began to vomit blood and suffered from severe coughing, nausea, and abdominal pain. There, he was given some anti-nausea medicine, pain medication and intravenous fluids before being returned to his prison cell.
Iran’s prison clinics offer only very basic medical services such as measuring blood pressure, administrating injections, providing intravenous fluids and prescribing medication. Prisoners such as Arash Sadeghi with serious medical conditions need to be transferred to medical facilities outside prison to receive treatment.
“The Iranian authorities’ treatment of Arash Sadeghi has been utterly deplorable. First they unjustly imprisoned him, then they ignored his legitimate protest against his wife’s unwarranted imprisonment for weeks, and now they are denying him urgent medical care. They must stop endangering his health and his life and order his transfer to hospital immediately, pending his unconditional release,” said Philip Luther.
Arash Sadeghi has been serving a 15-year sentence for his peaceful human rights activities since June 2016. His wife Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee had been sentenced to six years in prison on charges including “insulting Islamic sanctities”. Her request for judicial review is currently pending before Iran’s Supreme Court. Amnesty International considers both to be prisoners of conscience.
In a report entitled Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons and published in July 2016, Amnesty International documented a pattern of political prisoners being denied timely specialized medical care outside prison, often as a deliberate act by the judicial authorities, in particular the Office of the Prosecutor and prison administrations.