Political Prisoner Atena Daemi Denied Major Surgery After Authorities Insist on Keeping Her Cuffed
Imprisoned children’s rights activist Atena Daemi has been denied a major operation after demanding that the authorities fulfill their promise to allow her to receive the surgery without handcuffs and with a family member in attendance.
“According to the doctors, she needs to be operated on immediately,” her mother, Masoumeh Nemati, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “I can’t understand why the authorities think that a prisoner of conscience might escape her hospital bed? Where is she going to escape to?”
Daemi was due for a scheduled gallbladder operation on September 25, 2017 at Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran. She has been held in Evin Prison since 2014 after being arrested for engaging in peaceful human rights activism.
“The prison authorities told us that we could schedule the operation only at Imam Khomeini Hospital, and that’s what we did,” said Nemati. “This morning [September 25], Atena was brought to the hospital, but during the admittance process we realized that the prison director [Ali] Chaharmahali had ordered that she be cuffed on her hands and legs while in the hospital.”
“Atena said she was a prisoner of conscience and will not run away and was there just to get an operation,” added Nemati. “But the authorities said they had to carry out their orders. Atena refused and so they took her back to the prison.”
Nemati told CHRI that her daughter was particularly upset because the previous day a judicial official had pledged she would not be cuffed and could have family members with her in the hospital.
She said, “On Sunday [September 24], Atena’s father went to see the Assistant Tehran Prosecutor Mr. Hajmoradi, who made a verbal promise that she would not be hospitalized with hand and leg cuffs and she could even have visitors and chaperones.”
After the incident, Atena’s father went back to the prosecutor’s office to complain, but he was told the prison director’s order could not be rescinded.
Since November 2016, Daemi, 30, has been serving a seven-year prison sentence for meeting the families of political prisoners, criticizing the Islamic Republic of Iran on Facebook, and condemning the mass executions of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.
In August 2017, Evin Prison Director Chaharmahali filed a lawsuit against Daemi, accusing her of feigning sickness and insulting the prison clinic staff after she was told nothing was wrong with her.
Her waning health worsened after she went on hunger strike for nearly two months to protest a preliminary court’s ruling against her and her two sisters, Onsieh and Hanieh, for allegedly “insulting” agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and resisting arrest.
Daemi ended her hunger strike on June 3, 2017 after they were all acquitted of the charges upon appeal.
On July 8, 2017, Daemi and fellow political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee wrote a joint letter describing their experiences in Evin Prison after foreign ambassadors were given a staged tour of certain sections of the facility.
“Did they tell you about unsanitary conditions and women’s health? Or about the conditions inside the clinic where they prescribe wrong medications? Or about using sanctions and budget cuts as an excuse for the lack of disinfectants and cleaning material?” wrote the activists.
“Have they told you that for religious reasons, male prison doctors do not check female prisoners or give them injections and blood pressure tests? Have they told you there is not even one female nurse to carry out these tasks? Do you know how many hundreds or thousands of inmates suffer from kidney problems because of the prison’s unhealthy water?” asked the political prisoners.