Kurdish Political Prisoner Denied Urgent Medical Care
Prisoner of conscience Zeinab Jalalian, condemned to life in prison in northwestern Iran, needs urgent medical treatment for her eye and tongue infections and has not received adequate care inside prison.
“Zeinab has been afflicted with pterygium of the eye [surfer’s eye] and its spread is causing problems with her sight,” one of her lawyers, Amir Salar Davoodi, said in an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “She has also been suffering from septic boils on her tongue.”
“For both problems the cooperation of the authorities has been minimal and limited to taking her to the prison infirmary, but that is not enough,” he added. “Zeinab needs surgery. If Khoi [a city in West Azerbaijan Province] does not have a well-equipped hospital, the authorities should facilitate her transfer elsewhere.”
Davoodi also noted that his client has not been allowed to leave prison for a single day on furlough (temporary leave granted to most of Iran’s inmates) despite being incarcerated for nearly nine years in prison.
“The law offers prisoners certain rights and naturally these rights should apply to Zeinab as well,” he told the Campaign. “For years Zeinab, [her co-counsel] Mr. Mohammad Sharif and I have made several furlough requests. Her family has also been prepared to pay a bond. But so far the authorities have refused.”
“What we are asking for is her minimum rights,” he added.
Political prisoners in Iran routinely receive discriminatory treatment, including denial of necessary medical treatment.
Earlier this year Jalalian’s defense team told the Campaign they suspected she had been put under intense pressure to give a televised “confession” in return for furlough.
Televised forced “confessions” in politically motivated cases, often extracted under the threat of or actual torture, are a common practice in Iran.
Jalalian, 35, was arrested in 2007 for her alleged membership in the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (known as PJAK and PEJAK), an armed Kurdish group based in northwestern Iran, and was sentenced to death in 2009. The verdict was upheld on appeal but the Supreme Court reduced her sentence to life in prison in 2011.
“The verdict for her was unfair,” Davoodi told the Campaign. “We’re happy that her sentence was reduced to a life sentence, but now we hope that after nearly nine years in prison, her conditional release will be approved.”
“One thing that would qualify a prisoner for conditional release is good behavior and Zeinab is one of the most well-behaved prisoners in the country,” he added.
Jalalian has also been accused of taking part in armed operations, a charge she has consistently rejected. Nevertheless on May 8, 2016 state television in West Azerbaijan Province aired a program purporting to be a documentary, called “Under Terrorism’s Shadow,” in which Jalalian was introduced as a “terrorist.”
But Davoodi rejected the charges and praised Jalalian as “one of Iran’s most precious girls.”
“Zeinab is only a civil and cultural activist,” he told the Campaign. “She was not carrying a weapon when she was arrested nor has she ever been a member of the militant wing of any organization.”
“Terrorism, weapons and bringing harm to others are absolutely alien to her nature,” he said.