Labor Activist Without Kidneys Returned to Prison Against Medical Advice
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry and the chief prosecutor of Kurdistan Province have refused to accept a medical examiner’s recommendation to hospitalize imprisoned labor activist Mahmoud Salehi, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
Salehi, who has no kidneys, was rushed to a local hospital on November 3, 2017, from Saqqez Central Prison, 371 miles west of Tehran, and kept in intensive care for what doctors said was mild heart failure, his wife, Najibeh Salehzadeh, told CHRI.
He was returned to prison on November 11, against the advice of state medical officials and private doctors.
“The doctors at the hospital in Saqqez as well the official medical examiner said Mahmoud should be hospitalized at a more modern facility in Tehran, Tabriz or Oroumiyeh,” Salehzadeh told CHRI after her husband was returned to prison.
“The doctors insisted that he should not be left unattended in a confined space,” she added. “With his physical condition, cutting off his treatment is dangerous enough, let alone taking him back to prison.”
“My husband’s life and health are in danger,” said Salehzadeh. “The Intelligence Ministry and judiciary officials will be responsible for whatever happens to him.”
The founder of the Labor Unions Coordination Committee, Salehi was detained by security agents on October 28, 2017, as he was undergoing his weekly dialysis treatment, and transported to prison to begin serving a one-year sentence issued by the Appeals Court in February 2017 for “propaganda against the state.”
Labor activism in Iran is seen as a national security offense; independent labor unions are not allowed to function, strikers are often fired and risk arrest, and labor leaders are consistently prosecuted under catchall national security charges and sentenced to long prison terms.
Salehi lost his kidneys during detention in 2015 after prison authorities in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, cut off his medications.
A group created by Salehi’s supporters has issued a statement accusing the authorities of gradually taking his life.
“We believe the prison authorities’ decision to return him to prison was the result of pressure from the security establishment, especially the Intelligence Ministry,” said the statement by the Friends of Mahmoud Salehi Defense Committee, issued on November 9, 2017.
“The only conclusion is that they have decided to slowly get rid of him,” said the statement. “We condemn any deliberate act aimed at denying Salehi treatment at a better medical facility.”