Suffering From Severe Dental Problems, US Resident On “Enforced Hunger Strike” in Evin Prison
Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born US permanent resident imprisoned in Iran since September 2015, has been on hunger strike since September 29, 2017, due to severe and untreated dental problems, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
“Nizar cannot open his mouth or even eat, which led to an enforced hunger strike,” his American attorney, Jason Poblete, told CHRI on October 2, 2017. “Therefore he informed his captives that he is on hunger strike until complete medical care and hospitalization are provided.”
“Mr. Zakka says that the left side of his face is three times larger than the right side of his face,” he added.
Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.
Three specialist doctors visited Zakka in Tehran’s Evin Prison after he ended his last hunger strike, on July 29, 2017, and requested that he be immediately transferred to a hospital, according to Poblete. The attorney added that Zakka was suffering from internal stomach bleeding, a serious infection in his gums, and requires three root canals.
“Until this day, the infection and bleeding has increased significantly, while still the so-called assistant prosecutor Hajimoradi [first name unknown] has been denying and delaying Nizar’s hospitalization and medical care,” said Poblete.
Zakka was living and working as an internet freedom advocate in Washington, DC, before he was arrested in Tehran in September 2015 as an official guest of the government to attend a conference on women and sustainable development.
In August 2017, Iran’s Appeals Court upheld a 10-year prison sentence and $4.2 million fine against Zakka for unspecified espionage charges.
“We urge the International Red Cross and the UN Human Rights Council to take the proper measures,” Poblete told CHRI. “Mr. Zakka fears that he has a serious infection, as well as complications from bleeding of unknown origin, but likely gastrointestinal.”
As a foreign national, Zakka has frequently demanded and been denied visits by Lebanese diplomatic staff and representatives of the International Red Cross in Tehran.