Authorities Punish Political Prisoner by Denying Medical Treatment, Visitation Rights
Political prisoner Maryam Akbari-Monfared has been threatened with the revocation of her visitation rights and denied medical treatment in Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward for requesting an official inquiry into the execution of her siblings in the 1980s.
In a letter addressed to Iran’s Judiciary, a copy of which was emailed on November 11, 2016 to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, she wrote: “I received your message through my husband. Nothing can scare someone like me. You have left me nothing, so you cannot threaten me with anything. Have you no shame? You threaten an imprisoned mother with banning visits by her daughters? A mother who doesn’t even know what her daughters’ favorite colors are? Their favorite food? Their favorite game?”
“Considering the crimes I have seen and heard in Evin, Gohardasht and Varamin prisons during these past seven years, I am the one in the position to make threats, not you,” she added.
“For a mother like me who left her kids at a young age to go to prison, it makes no difference any more if I go home in 15 years or 25 years or never at all. My most important goal now is to avenge the blood of my sister and brothers who were executed despite being innocent,” she wrote.
Akbari-Monfared’s scheduled medical appointment outside the prison was also canceled.
“Iranian officials are refusing to take prisoner of conscience Maryam Akbari-Monfared to her scheduled medical appointments outside prison in order to receive treatment for her rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid problems,” reported Amnesty International on November 3, 2016. “The Associate Prosecutor (dadyar) of Evin Prison told her family on 24 October that her medical care arrangements have been cancelled because she has become too ‘brazen’ (por-rou).”
Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for particularly harsh treatment, including the denial of medical care.
Akbari-Monfared is currently serving the seventh year of a 15-year prison sentence for “waging war against God” through her alleged connection to the banned Mojahedin-e Khalgh organization (MEK, also known as MKO and PMOI). Last month she called for a judicial inquiry to investigate the execution of her siblings and the location where they were buried.
“The family has never been told where they were buried. I am requesting clarification on how they died and where they were put to rest,” she wrote in an open letter dated October 16, 2016.
“Three of my brothers and one of my sisters were executed in prison in the 1980s,” continued the letter. “My youngest brother, Abdolreza Akbari-Monfared, was executed in 1980. He was only a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested. He was charged with distributing MEK literature. Although he was sentenced to only three years in prison, he was incarcerated until his execution in the summer of 1988 along with scores of other prisoners.”
“Another brother, Alireza Akbari-Monfared, was arrested on September 8, 1981 and he was tried and executed ten days later… On the seventh night of mourning for my brother Alireza, agents raided our house and arrested a number of guests as well as my mother, and sister Roghieh Akbari-Monfared. My mother was released after five months but my sister was sentenced to eight years in prison. She was executed in August 1988 near the end of her prison term… My other brother, Gholamreza Akbari-Monfared, was arrested in 1983 and died under torture in 1985,” added the letter.
The exact number of political prisoners who have been executed in Iran since the country’s 1979 revolution is unknown; if any records exist, the government has concealed them. But an investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation Persian (BBC Persian) from 2013 estimated that—based on interviews with human rights groups and the families of the victims—close to 11,000 people were executed between 1981 and 1985, and more than 4,000 in the summer of 1988.
Akbari-Monfared’s family posted an unusually high bail amount for her temporary release on furlough in 2014, but the Intelligence Ministry blocked her release, her husband told the Campaign in October 2016.
“In 2014 they demanded 1.15 billion tomans ($362,000 USD) in bail to grant her furlough,” Hassan Jafari told the Campaign. “So we went ahead and presented the deed to a property and paid for the appraisal, but they have still not allowed her to go on furlough, not even for surgery or to attend [one of our] daughters’ first day of school.”
“The court has been sitting on the property deed for two and a half years and they’re telling us that the Intelligence Ministry has not agreed to grant her furlough,” he added. “No one answers our questions. We don’t know which office to go to. We have been going to the prosecutor’s office for seven years, but we haven’t been able to meet him even once.”