Imprisoned Human Rights Defender Denied Furlough Again
For the fourth year in a row, the ailing prominent human rights defender Mohammad Seifzadeh was not granted furlough for the Iranian New Year (March 20-April 1). Furlough, typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.
Seifzadeh’s wife, Fatemeh Golzar, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, “Since his arrest in April 2011, he has never requested furlough, and he asked us [the family] not to request furlough for him. If everything goes according to law, a prisoner must be granted furlough, but during the years he has been in prison, he has not been granted any furlough.”
Golzar told the Campaign that Seifzadeh suffers from kidney disease. “In February, he was transferred to a hospital for kidney treatment for ten days. He suffers from kidney stones and he was in a lot of pain, but after examinations and tests, the doctors said there is no need for surgery,” she said. Medical care is routinely denied to political prisoners in Iran.
In October 2010, Mohammad Seifzadeh, a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, was sentenced to nine years in prison and a ten-year ban on practicing law on charges of “acting against national security through establishing the Defenders of Human Rights Center.” He was arrested in April 2011 in the city of Orumiyeh on charges of exiting the country illegally, resulting in a second case against him. An appeals court reduced the sentence from his first case to two years in prison, which he served until March 25, 2013. However, while in prison, Seifzadeh was charged with “collusion and assembly against national security” for writing critical letters and signing several group statements, which resulted in a third case against him.
Four court sessions were held to review these charges, but each time Seifzadeh refused to appear in court to present his defense, because he does not consider the Revolutionary Court qualified to judge the case. In March 2013, the court announced an additional six-year sentence for the charges in the third case, but an appeals court ruling on sentencing is pending. [Link: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2013/07/seifzadeh_appeals/
According to Fatemeh Golzar, the case pertaining to Seifzadeh’s alleged “illegal exit from the country” has been dropped. He is serving his sentence inside Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj.