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Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi speaks as she receives honorary citizenship in Paris June 2010

Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi speaks to the public on June 10, 2010 as she launches a joint campaign with the FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights for the release of all prisoners of conscience in Iran. The event also brought Ebadi recognition and honorary citizenship in Paris. Image: Oliver Pacteau

(WNN) Paris, FRANCE: As conditions for political prisoners of conscience  in Iran continue to deteriorate inside the Iran’s prison system, Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, along with the FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights and the LDDHI – Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights, are calling for a stop to the human rights abuse of those who have suffered under arbitrary arrest, intimidation, torture, threats, lack of proper medical care and response, remote imprisonment, as well as lack of legal protections and attorneys.

“Conditions of prisoners in Iran are deteriorating by the day,” says the FIDH/LIDDHI. “Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience suffer a series of torture and other ill treatment during pre-trial detention, lack access to their lawyers and families and due process, and are subsequently tried under conditions far from international standards of fair trials, on charges related to their professional work, human rights work, freedom of expression, assembly and association, and other legitimate rights recognised by international human rights treaties, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is state party,” they continue.

The trials for prisoners of conscience in Iran are often swift, lasting in court only a few minutes. Access to lawyers for legal representation is sometimes limited or non-existent. The justice system in Iran has also been known to create sentences that are considered by human rights advocates to be “extremely unfair” under what they claim are Iran’s “highly flawed laws” as some prisoners are given added punitive sentences as they are sent far away from their families to live out their incarcerations in remote prisons.

‘Imprisonment in exile’ to remote Iranian prisons is a case in point as Iranian court directives cause families to struggle to see a family member who has been imprisoned. The law to exile a prisoner does “not currently exist in any Iranian law which effectively punishes both the prisoners and their families,” shares the FIDH/LIDDHI.

Other forms of harassment against prisoners of conscience have included public shame, personal intimidation, unwarranted threats of further detainment and threats to family members.

Proper healthcare for prisoners is also an issue. “Frequently Iran authorities refuse to provide the mandatory health care as required both under international treaties and the Prisons Regulations of Iran,” added the FIDH/LIDDHI.

Current conditions describing the human rights abuses of Iran’s incarceration system in response to the needs for prisoner’s health care is shown in this partial list of Iran’s prisoners of conscience:

  • Ms. Nargess Mohammadi who was taken to hospital from prison on 9 July 2012 after she suffered severe injury to her face when she fell. She suffers from muscular paralysis and convulsion. Her family had no news of her for 12 days until she contacted them around 22 July, after she had been returned to prison. She said that she had even lost her eyesight for five days. Despite the presence of prison guards around her, she had been handcuffed to her bed every night while sleeping. Ms. Mohammadi is vice president of Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) and is serving a 6-year imprisonment sentence on charges related to her human rights work. The authorities, who have illegally transferred her to Zanjan prison where she is held with common criminals, finally granted her sick leave today, 31 July, to pursue her treatment out of prison. It is not, however, clear how long her leave will last.
  • Ms. Zaynab Jalalian who suffers from intestinal bleeding and eyesight problems caused by severe torture during pre-trial interrogations. She is a Kurdish political prisoner who is serving life imprisonment in Sanandaj prison.
  • Ms. Kobra Banazadeh Amirkhizi and Ms. Sedigheh Moradi, two political prisoners, who were transferred to Gharachak prison on 11 July, where common criminals are held under extremely non-standard conditions. They are serving prison sentences of 5 years and 10 years in internal exile, respectively, on charges said to be related to their family ties to opposition members abroad.
  • Ms. Nasrin Sotudeh, human rights lawyer and DHRC member, who is serving a sentence of 6 years in Evin prison. The authorities banned her husband and even her 12-year-old daughter from travelling abroad, according to information received on 11 July.
  • Ms. Hanieh Farshi Shotorban, blogger, who is serving 7 years in Evin prison, was refused medical care and medication by the prison clinic for her kidney and bladder problems, in mid-July.
  • Mohammad Seifzadeh who suffers from acute health problems, including severe pain in his legs and knees, his back and spinal cord, arthritis of the neck and hands, and heart ailment. He has been denied medical care since last January. Mr. Seifzadeh, lawyer and a founding member of DHRC, is serving a two-year imprisonment sentence in Evin prison on charges related to his human rights work and is facing new charges brought against him for writing open critical letters.
  • Abdolfattah Soltani, who suffers from anaemia and other health problems, was scheduled to be taken to hospital in the final week of June, but his transfer was called off upon the insistence of the authorities to handcuff him. Mr. Soltani, lawyer and a founding member of DHRC, has been detained since September 2011 and was recently sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in internal exile in the remote city of Borazjan for his human rights work. If exiled to Borazjan, his family will have to travel 1,200 km each way every time for a short prison visit.
  • Shahrokh Zamani, a trade unionist, who was sent to the Quarantine Section of Yazd prison on 29 July, a week after his open letter was published, in which he had criticised the terrible conditions of Yazd prison. Having been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on charges related to his efforts to establish an independent workers union, he was ‘exiled’ to Yazd prison from his domicile city of Tabriz in north-west Iran in May 2012, even though his sentence does not provide for ‘imprisonment in exile’.
  • Mohsammad Sadiq Kaboudvand who recently went on a long hunger strike demanding to visit his son, who suffers from an incurable disease. He finally ended his protest on 24 July after 59 days. Mr. Kaboudvand, president of Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan, is serving an imprisonment sentence of 10 years and six months on charges related to his human rights work, and has suffered three strokes and at least one heart attack in prison, prostate and kidney problems, and has had periods of dizziness and unconsciousness. However, he has not had consistent access to all necessary medical care.
  • Bahman Ahmadi Amou’i, an economic journalist, who is serving a five-year imprisonment. In mid-June 2012, when political prisoners in Evin prison’s Section 350 organised a ceremony to commemorate the anniversary of demise of the late political prisoner Hoda Saber, prison officials sent him and several prisoners to solitary confinement. He was subsequently banished to the remote Rajaishahr prison. There, he was insulted and confined to solitary cells for nearly 20 days. He remains in the same prison, even though his sentence does not provide for ‘imprisonment in exile.’
  • Anvar Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish civil activist, who is serving 16 years in Sanandaj prison, suffers from kidney and intestine infection. Reports detailing his pre-trial tortures indicate that his ribs were broken and he was forced to stay naked in prison yard in cold winter nights. One of his brothers was killed under dubious circumstances while he was carrying a petition proclaiming his brother’s innocence to submit to judicial authorities. His other brother was detained several times, lost his eyesight by 50% under torture and then sentenced to one year imprisonment.
  • Abolfazl Ghadiani, political activist, who suffers from heart ailment and has undergone surgery several times. Prison officers reportedly took him to hospital for medical examination yesterday (30 July) after beating and handcuffing him. He refused to be examined in protest and was returned to prison. In mid-July, he was denied sick leave, which the Medical Commission had recommended. Mr. Ghadiani was due to be released in late November 2011 after serving his one-year imprisonment sentence, but the authorities brought new charges against him for ‘insults against the Supreme Leader and the president’ and sentenced  him to one more year imprisonment. He is facing new charges.
  • Mostafa Tajzadeh, former deputy interior minister, who is serving a sentence of 6 years and suffers from lumbar disc, arthritis of the neck and skin disease and problems of eyesight. The authorities refuse to transfer him to public sections of the prison.
  • Kurosh Kuhkan (Kohkan), political activist, who is serving a prison sentence of three and a half years. He suffered right knee meniscus tear under torture. His knee failed to function in mid-July as a result of which he fell down the stairs. Prison officials failed to take timely action for his treatment.
  • Kayvan Samimi-Behbahani, veteran journalist and human rights defender, who is serving a six-year prison sentence in the remote Rajaishahr prison and suffers from a risky liver ailment.
  • Sa’eed Matinpour, Iranian Azeri cultural activist and journalist, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence and suffers from lung infection.
  • Ahmad Zeidabadi (Zeydabadi), journalist, who is serving a six-year prison sentence and suffers from unexplained extreme loss of weight.
  • Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, political activist, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence and suffers from heart problems and high blood pressure.
  • Abdollah Momeni, political activist, who is serving a sentence of four years and 11 months and suffers from kidney ailment, skin disease and hearing problem as a result of damage to his eardrums under torture. He is facing new charges
  • Ghassem Sholeh Saadi, defence lawyer, who is serving a sentence of 1.5 years and suffers from damages to his spinal cord reportedly caused under torture during his previous prison term. He is facing new charges.
  • Hamed Rouhinejad, student, who is serving a sentence of 10 years in internal exile in Zanjan prison, and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis as a result of which he has been reported to have problems of eyesight and hearing and one of his hands is not functioning.
  • Mohammad Hossein Kazemeyni Borujerdi, dissident cleric, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in Evin prison, and has been reported to suffer from Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney and heart problems and loss of vision in one of his eyes.
  • Saleh Kohandel, political prisoner, who is serving a sentence of 10 years in the remote Rajaishahr prison and suffers from severe irregularity of blood platelet count.
  • Siamak Ighani, a follower of the Baha’i faith, who is serving a sentence of three years in Semnan prison and suffers from lung problems and rheumatism.
  • Mohsen Javadi Afzali, political prisoner, who is serving a sentence of two years and six months in Evin prison, and suffers from acute ear infection and hearing problems.
  • Ja’afar Eghdami, political prisoner, who is serving a sentence of 10 years in the remote Rajaishahr prison, and suffers from a neurotic syndrome in his waist and leg that might paralyse him completely.
  • Ebrahim (Nader) Babaei, political prisoner, who is serving a sentence of six years in the remote Rajaishahr prison and suffers from heart ailment and lumbar disc.
  • Arash Honarvar Shojaei, dissident cleric, who is serving a four-year imprisonment sentence in Evin prison, and suffers from heart problems and epilepsy.

“We draw the attention of the international community once again to the following prisoners of conscience who have been recently subjected to ill treatment, but wish to emphasise that the list represents only a fraction of ill-treated prisoners and it is far from being conclusive and comprehensive,” says the joint statement by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi with the FIDH/LIDDHI.

In spite of pleas for the use of human rights treatment to be implemented for prisoners in Iran from international advocates and organizations around the world, the Iranian prison system appears to continue to ignore or respond to human rights standards set by the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners adopted in a more complete and final form by the UN in 1977.

“…we urge the Islamic Republic of Iran to embark immediately on a plan of action to address the ‘Concerns’ of the Human Rights Committee and implement its ‘Recommendations,” said the FIDH/LDDHI in an effort to bring attention to conditions for prisoners in Iran last December 2011.

“Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience are hostages held by the Iranian authorities, who exert as much pressure as possible on them and their families,” said Karim Lahidji, vice-president of the FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights and president of the LDDHI – Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights. “The authorities refuse to provide proper and regular medical treatment to political prisoners, deny all their other rights and subject them to all kinds of torture, inhuman punishments and other ill treatment. They even punish the families of political prisoners,” outlines Lahidji.

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