Imprisoned Kurdish activist Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand is in critical condition after embarking on a hunger strike over two weeks ago, his wife told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Parinaz Baghban Hassani told the Campaign that her husband embarked on a hunger strike on 13 February, demanding he be allowed to see his son in the hospital. A week later, judicial authorities allowed the visit. “My husband’s physical and psychological condition is not good at all, and after visiting with our sick son, his psychological state has worsened.”
“He broke his hunger strike because the authorities had promised to review his case. Mohammad was on hunger strike for a week and had conditions for breaking his strike. One of those conditions was permission to visit with his sick son in hospital. Finally, judicial authorities accepted this condition and he broke his strike after a week. But unfortunately, none of his other demands have been reviewed yet,” added Baghban.
In 2007, authorities arrested Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, Secretary of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization and manager of the publication Payam-e Mardom. A year later, the Tehran Revolutionary Court sentenced him to 11 years in prison on charges of “propagating falsehoods with the intent to create public anxiety” by establishing the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization. He has been deprived of basic prisoner rights such as furlough, in-person visitation, and suitable and timely medical treatment.
“My husband’s physical and psychological condition is not good at all, and after visiting with our sick son, his psychological state has worsened,” said Baghbani. Kaboudvand’s 22-year-old son has cancer. After his requests for visiting with his son were refused, he began his hunger strike.
Kaboudvand’s physical condition has worsened significantly in the past few months, his wife said. “He needs to be transferred to a hospital for heart and prostate treatment. He suffered three heart attacks in prison, and prison doctors said he should have been sent out for treatment, but that didn’t happen. Two months ago, upon our insistence, they transferred him to a hospital for tests. The specialist doctors determined that he needs angioplasty and he will need to have prostate surgery, too. But two months later, judicial authorities have not yet allowed his transfer to a hospital and now with his son’s critical condition his stress and anxiety has increased. All of this is bad for his heart.”
Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand began publishing Payam-e Mardom in 2003. The publication was available in Kurdish and Farsi languages in Tehran and provinces where Kurdish Iranians lived. In March 2006, he established the Kurdistan Human Rghts Organization. In 2009, he was chosen as the “International Journalist of the Year” by the British Press Awards and received Human Rights Watch’s Hellman Hammett Award.
“My request is that judicial authorities deal [with Kaboudvand's case] more humanely. If they glance at Kaboudvand’s case file, they will see that he has not committed any crimes other than reflecting the conditions of deprived people in his weekly publication,” Baghban told the Campaign.
“It is not fair for a prisoner not to have even one day of furlough in five years and for him to be banned from having in-person visits for more than two years. Neither myself and his children, nor Mr. Kaboudvand’s sister and brother have been able to visit with him in person. It has really affected Mohammad’s psyche and his children’s not to have been able to see each other up close,” she added.
Prior to her own imprisonment, Nasrin Sotoudeh was Kaboudvand’s defense lawyer. Since Sotoudeh’s imprisonment, Kaboudvand’s wife has been following up on his case.
“I believe that if the conditions were different and Mr. Kaboudvand was able to have furlough and in-person visitation, perhaps our son would have been in a better psychological state and his illness could have led to better results,” Parinaz Baghban Hassani told the Campaign.
She also spoke about her husband’s poor psychological condition: “When Mohammad had his last heart attack, I can’t remember the date, the prison infirmary was dispensing tranquilizers and sleeping pills for him without specialized treatment. Every two to three weeks, when we went to visit with him, we would notice that he was not even able to talk. He kept stammering. He was unaware of his surrounding environment, and was generally not focused. The medication has had its [negative] effects on him. Same thing with the prison environment and deprivation of basic prisoner rights, which have affected him psychologically. Certainly they would affect any prisoner. He continues to use tranquilizers now.”
Parinaz Bagheban Hassani added that if Kaboudvand’s demands are not met, he would go on hunger strike again.