Iranian Prisoner of Conscience in Critical Health
August 16, 2017
Iranian prisoner of conscience and human rights defender Arash Sadeghi is critically ill and requires immediate hospitalization outside of prison. However, the authorities are refusing to authorize the transfer, apparently on the orders of the Revolutionary Guards. The denial of access to medical care in these circumstances amounts to torture.
Human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, aged 30, is suffering from worsening digestive complications and respiratory problems since his 71-day hunger strike due to the persistent refusal of prosecution authorities to allow his hospitalization outside of Tehran’s Evin prison. He has been told by judiciary officials that this is on orders from the Revolutionary Guards and prison officials told him that the transfer to hospital “ is out of [their] hands”. On 6 August, he was taken to a hospital outside the prison where he underwent a colonoscopy and endoscopy, and had his stomach pumped, and he was then returned to prison after 48 hours. This is the fourth time since February 2017 that Arash Sadeghi has been taken to hospital but returned to prison prematurely before receiving the medical care he requires. Doctors advised that he requires long-term hospitalization in order to receive specialist treatment for his numerous health problems, which were caused by his prolonged hunger strike and exacerbated by ongoing lack of adequate medical care.
Arash Sadeghi suffers from chronic nausea, heart arrhythmia, asthma and a stomach ulcer, which prevents him from eating solid food, and the liquid diet he receives is poor in nutrients. His is on blood thinners and other medications. Prison officials told Arash Sadeghi that these medications are expensive and that he must start paying for them. Amnesty International understands that the hunger strike impaired Arash Sadeghi’s kidney function, and that he has not had any subsequent tests conducted since he ended his strike in January 2017. Arash Sadeghi went on hunger strike in October 2016 to protest against the imprisonment of his wife Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, also a human rights defender, for writing a fictional story against the punishment of stoning. The hunger strike led to a public outcry, which compelled the authorities to release Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee on temporary prison leave on 2 January. However, she was rearrested on 22 January to resume serving her sentence.
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Arash Sadeghi has been imprisoned in Tehran’s Evin prison since June 2016, serving two separate prison terms totalling 19 years. He is being punished for his peaceful human rights activities including communicating with Amnesty International and providing the organization with information on the human rights situation in Iran.