66-year old Riaz Sobhani, currently in prison for financially assisting the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), was refused medical leave after his recent heart surgery. His son, Naim Sobhani, told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that his father was transferred to the hospital for his surgery in chains.
Naim Sobhani told the Campaign that two days after his surgery, his father was transferred back to Rajaee Shahr prison on 27 May, after being denied medical furlough.
In June 2011 authorities arrested Riaz Sobhani and on 30 September 2011 Judge Moghisseh of Branch 28 of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court sentenced him to four years in prison for providing financial assistance to BIHE. An appeals court upheld his sentence.
Sobhani’s son described his father’s experience in the hospital: “They transferred a sick 66-year-old man to the hospital with chains on his hands and feet. Three agents are watching him in the hospital around the clock and the family were only able to see my father a few times after imploring and begging the guards.”
On 13 May, authorities transferred Sobhani to prison because of his deteriorating medical condition. “My father’s left hand has lost all feeling, his hearing is impaired, and he has chronic coughing. These are symptoms he has developed over the past year in prison,’ said Naim Sobhani. “He previously had heart, vision, and stomach problems which were exacerbated by the poor hygienic and nutrition conditions in prison. We had asked the authorities twice to transfer him to a hospital, but they refused. But on 13 May his condition deteriorated to the point where they had to transfer him to a hospital. Prison staff called my mother and told her they had transferred him to the hospital and my family went there immediately.”
Riaz Sobhani was a key member of the Baha’i Assembly in Tehran prior to its closure in 2008 when seven Baha’i community leaders were arrested and later each sentenced to 10 years in prison. Riaz Sobhani’s first lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani, is currently in prison.