“Allow My Husband Medical Furlough,” Asks Union Activist Reza Shahabi’s Wife
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Robabeh Rezaei, the wife of imprisoned labor activist Reza Shahabi, spoke about her husband’s hunger strike in protest of the prison authorities’ refusal to allow him medical treatment outside. “On Monday, December 24, when I visited with Reza through a booth, he wasn’t feeling well at all. He said that last Sunday his health deteriorated and his cellmates had insisted that he go to the prison infirmary, but that he did not allow them to hook him up to an IV, and refused medication. He said his blood pressure was low. I am gravely worried for him. If they hadn’t prevented his hospital treatment, this would not have happened,” she said. Shahabi embarked on his hunger strike on December 17, 2012.
Reza Shahabi, a member of the Board of Directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and its Suburbs Bus Company labor union, was arrested on June 12, 2010. According to reports, he was severely beaten during interrogations, leading to spinal injuries which required medical treatment. Shahabi underwent neck surgery last summer, but was transferred back to prison only a few days after the surgery. During an earlier interview, Shahabi’s wife told the Campaign that he was transferred to the hospital for a checkup only once after his surgery, and that during the recent months he has lost sensation in his feet and fingers and is experiencing severe pain in his neck and back.
Following repeated requests by his family, the labor activist was finally transferred to the hospital for an examination on December 15. The doctors ordered an MRI for him, but before he could be taken for the procedure, the prison guards accompanying him physically and verbally abused him and returned him to prison. In protest of this incident and his inhumane conditions, Shahabi refused to take his medication anymore, and two days later he also embarked on a hunger strike.
“I would like to ask the Head of the Judiciary and the Tehran Prosecutor to allow my husband medical furlough, so that he can come and seek treatment. I have no other requests. If my husband is not treated, he runs the risk of paralysis,” Robabeh Rezaei told the Campaign.
Rezaei told the Campaign that her husband is so exhausted and demoralized by his present conditions, he no longer cares whether he lives or dies. “Reza told me last Monday during our visit that he is not going to break his hunger strike until he receives medical furlough,” Rezaei added.
Reza Shahabi was informed on April 14 that he was sentenced to a total of six years in prison on charges of “propaganda against the regime” (one year) and “assembly and collusion against national security” (five years), as well as five years’ ban on social activities. Currently he is being held at Evin Prison’s Ward 350.