In an open letter widely published in the media, Fatemeh Alvandi, mother of Mehdi Mahmoudian, declared Tehran’s Prosecutor responsible for her son’s dangerous physical condition, due to damages he sustained during his detention. Mahmoudian is a journalist, a member of the Participation Front Information Committee, and a human rights activist.

Mahmoudian was arrested on 18 September 2009. A few weeks ago, his temporary detention orders were changed to permanent detention orders. He spent 80 days of his detention in solitary confinement and was recently moved to a 4-person cell. Mahmoudian was one of the few journalists who played an important role in revealing the crimes committed in the infamous Kahrizak Detention Center before and after the presidential elections. He was the first person to write about the inhumane and illegal prisoner treatment at Kahrizak.

Mrs. Alvandi’s letter is published at a time when in the past few weeks numerous reports highlight prisoners’ physical conditions and several political prisoners’ illness that have caused serious concern among their families. The judicial and security organizations’ silence coupled with added limitations for prisoners such as limited visits and lack of medical attention, have heightened concern for the prisoners.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran views the lack of attention to prisoners’ health conditions and the lack of transparency on the part of Iranian judicial authorities with respect to informing prisoners’ families about their health, a violation of Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners . These standards were adopted by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955, and approved by the Economic and Social Council by its resolutions 663 C (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977.  The Campaign joins the aforementioned families of prisoners in holding the Tehran Prosecutor and other judicial authorities who are directly involved in the judicial process of these prisoners, responsible for any unfavorable outcomes for these prisoners and other prisoners in similar conditions, and demands a review of the conditions of these prisoners before anything serious happens to them.

According to Article 25 of these Standards, “The medical officer shall have the care of the physical and mental health of the prisoners and should daily see all sick prisoners, all who complain of illness, and any prisoner to whom his attention is specially directed.” The second item on this article expresses that “the medical officer shall report to the director whenever he considers that a prisoner’s physical or mental health has been or will be injuriously affected by continued imprisonment or by any condition of imprisonment.” (Persian Reference) (English Reference)

In addition to Mehdi Mahmoudian, worrying news about the dangerous health conditions of other prisoners such as Emadeddin Baghi, Farid Taheri, Badressadat Mofidi, Issa Saharhiz, Nader Karimi Jooni, Mojtaba Lotfi, Mansour Osanlou, Jahangir Abdollahi, Jafar Panahai, Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand, Ebrahim Madadi, and Abbas Khorsandi have been published.

Many of these political prisoners who are in critical physical condition have been deprived of a fair trial, and been deprived of the right to visit with their lawyer or family members. Shortcomings in their medical attention have only exacerbated their conditions. According to Article 187 of the Iranian Prisons Procedures, deprivation of visitation rights is an exceptional matter. Limitations in a prisoner’s visits with his/her lawyer is a completely exceptional occurrence and only imaginable for lawyers prior to the day the client’s trial begins. But judicial and prison authorities and Ministry of Intelligence’s interrogators prevent the lawyers to meet with their clients some of whom have various charges and/or multiple cases and who have media or political backgrounds.

In her letter, Fatemeh Alvandi describes Mehdi Mahmoudian’s health after 200 days in prison as “dangerous.” Referring to the “unanswered” or “disappeared” status of some 80 letters she has written to the Judiciary, demanding that her son’s minimum human rights be respected, she has objected to the behavior of the Judiciary. In a part of her letter she writes: “Dear Mr. Prosecutor, during several nights in January 2010, and continuing with my son’s inhumane interrogations, Mehdi Mahmoudian was kept in the open prison yard for eight hours in his under-shirt in -10 degrees Centigrade. I suppose he was expected to choose what the interrogators wished for him to choose. The result of this inhumane treatment is that he developed a lung infection and currently his coughs are frightening. During his phone call yesterday, he said that despite his severe respiratory problems, he is not allowed to go to the hospital and to seriously treat his condition. All of this is in addition to his other problems such as nose bleeding and kidney problems, which have developed and exacerbated as a result of pressures during his detention and solitary confinement.”

The responsibility for a prisoner’s life, so long as he is in custody, is upon the judicial system. Authorities are responsible to care for prisoners, regarding detention conditions and individual treatment.

Article 102 of the Prisons Organizations’ Procedures Manual stipulates that the prison infirmary is responsible for conducting medical tests of all prisoners at least once every month. Also, Article 103 of the same procedures states that a prisoner’s medical treatment inside or outside the prison are dependent on the prison infirmary’s confirmation and approval of the presiding judge. In the event that the prison warden does not approve the necessity, the patient’s transfer outside the prison will not take place. While in many cases the prison infirmary authorities have recommended outside examinations and medical treatment in hospitals outside the prison, judicial authorities have remained careless about the issue and have deprived the prisoners from medical treatment under difficult physical and psychological conditions.

One of the cases in which a lack of attention and carelessness to a prisoner’s medical conditions led to serious risks for the prisoner is the case of Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand. Kaboudvand, Head of Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan, has been in prison since July 2007 and has had several heart attacks in the past year. Despite recommendations and diagnosis by prison physicians who had authorized his transfer to a hospital outside of prison, the spokesperson for the Judiciary described his condition as “normal.” In the past two months, Kaboudvand has been transferred to a hospital outside of prison, but prison authorities have not issued authorizations for him to continue his medical treatment outside the prison. Despite his poor health, he has not been allowed to use furlough.

Abbas Khorsandi, Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Iran who was under medical treatment before his arrest, despite being afflicted with heart disease, neurological illness, digestive problems, and chronic headaches, has been denied medical leave by the responsible authorities. Khorsandi’s family has expressed concern and is worried about his unfavorable conditions and his poor physical health, especially his heart disease.

Mansour Osanloo, Chairman of Vahed Bus Company Syndicate, was scheduled to have eye surgery when he was arrested and transferred to prison before he had a chance to have his eye surgery. He was not granted permission to go to the hospital for several months. After he was transferred to the hospital under special security and underwent his operation, he was not allowed to spend time in the hospital to recover. Also, Ebrahim Madadi, another member of the Board of Directors of Vahed Bus Company Syndicate, suffers from various illnesses such as diabetes and prostate problems, and has been kept in Rajaei Shahr Prison without medical care.

Emadeddin Baghi, a prominent human rights advocate and journalist who in his previous term of imprisonment due to the poor conditions of ward 209 of Evin Prison suffered severe physical injury, remains in detention under unfavorable physical conditions. After a short visit with her husband on 20 March 2010, Baghi’s wife announced that he suffered from respiratory complications and was transferred to a hospital, but prison authorities sent him back to his cell again. Also,Farid Taheri , a member of Nehzat Azadi (Freedom Movement) who is spending his prison term in ward 350 of Evin prison suffers from chronic lung infections. During the new year holidays, he was ill and was without access to basic facilities, including warm clothing, medicine, and proper food in Evin prison.

Jahangir Abdollahi, a graduate student of political science at Tehran University, is another prisoner of conscience who remains at Evin prison under pressure and physical torture to accept his charges. Quoting an informed source, the Committee of Human Rights Reporters stated that Abdollahi’s case interrogators have forced him to sit on the floor during their long interrogations. This caused Abdollahi to be transferred to Evin prison Infirmary with muscular problems several times. He has also been forced to take pills which have caused chronic insomnia, to the point where he has not been able to sleep for three days in a row.