“Saeed [Matinpour] suffers from severe back pain. He is constantly walking with his hands on his back and has serious difficulty sitting down and getting up,” his wife Atieh Taheri told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. (Sketch by Hadi Heidari)

After months of effort by imprisoned journalist Saeed Matinpour’s family to obtain medical treatment for him, the Prosecutor’s Office has maintained its silence, his wife told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “The prisoners at Evin face a gradual death under prison conditions, and the officials apparently don’t hear our pleas. Poor nutrition, insufficient access to fresh air, lack of medical equipment and care and hygiene have led to multiple physical and psychological illnesses among the prisoners, and my husband is one of the prisoners who needs immediate treatment,” said Atieh Taheri, the wife of the journalist and civil activist from Azerbaijan Province.

“Saeed suffers from severe back pain. He is constantly walking with his hands on his back and has serious difficulty sitting down and getting up. I have been pursuing his treatment for a long time, but so far no one has provided any answers to me. Since his arrest about four years ago, he has not been allowed furlough even once and he has not received approval for medical furlough or transfer to a hospital for treatment. I am really exhausted. Imagine that for the past eight years, I have traveled by bus from Zanjan to Tehran once every week. I have gone wherever you can imagine to follow his case and have written letters. I don’t know what else to do and whom to beg for help,” Taheri told the Campaign.

Saeed Matinpour, 38, is a journalist and civil activist from Iran’s Azerbaijan Province. He graduated from Tehran University in philosophy and wrote about ethnic rights in local newspapers and Zanjan Weekly. He was arrested on May 25, 2007, after he attended a seminar in defense of Azeri-speakers in Turkey. Branch 15 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Salavati sentenced him to eight years in prison on charges of contact with foreigners and propaganda against the state. He is currently serving his sentence at Evin Prison.

Atieh Taheri told the Campaign that most prisoners at Evin are in bad health. “When I go to visit with Saeed, I see the other prisoners inside the visitation hall. They all have dark skin with splotches. Hair loss and stomach pain are common issues among the prisoners. Also, most of them suffer from backache and spinal issues, which may be because of their non-standard beds and mattresses; most of the prisoners don’t have beds and are forced to sleep on the floor—they’re called ‘floor sleepers,’” she said.

“Imagine cells designed for five to six prisoners, where thirty inmates live. They have very few fresh air breaks and the prison food quality is poor. The prison store sells its food at very expensive prices, up to twice or three times higher than outside the prison. Therefore not all prisoners are able to purchase food items from the store and are forced to eat the prison food, which is bad for their health,” she told the Campaign.

Asked what request she has of judicial authorities, Atieh Taheri said, “My wish is for this story to end as soon as possible and for political prisoners to be released so they can return to their homes. My hope was that with the election of the Rouhani government, the cement wall between the government and the nation would be lifted, but it appears that there are many parallel power currents which have prevented this from becoming a possibility so far. Sometimes I think our hopes are baseless,” she concluded.