Political Prisoner Arash Sadeghi Denied Hospitalization Despite Loss of Arm Motion
Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi’s loss of motion in his right arm hasn’t persuaded the authorities of Evin Prison to allow him to receive proper medical treatment in a hospital outside the prison, his wife Golrokh Iraee Ebrahimi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The last time I visited Arash was on August 7,” Ebrahimi told CHRI on August 16, 2019. “His right arm was badly swollen and had become completely numb. Arash said he has lost movement from his shoulder down to the tip of his fingers.”
Ebrahimi added: “We have submitted many requests to send him to the hospital but it has not happened. In June, the authorities promised to take him to the hospital but they didn’t. Then they said they would do it in July but again they didn’t take him. When I made inquiries, they said they would do it this month but they have broken their promises so many times that we’re worried it won’t happen.”
Political prisoners in Iran, including elderly inmates, are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care. The threat of withheld medical care has also been used as an intimidation tool against prisoners who have challenged the authorities or filed complaints.
The ailing 33-year-old has been serving a 15-year prison sentence since June 2016 for engaging in peaceful civil rights activism under the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “spreading lies in cyberspace,” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”
Sadeghi’s last visit to a hospital outside the prison was in September 2018 when he underwent an operation to remove the tumor from his right shoulder.
“He has been taking antibiotics for the past year and that has its own negative side effects,” Sadeghi’s wife told CHRI. “What we are asking for is that, in addition to his arm, the rest of his body also be checked because the cancer may have metastasized to other parts.”
She added: “After Arash’s operation, the doctor said he needs chemotherapy. But Arash would have gotten worse if he did chemotherapy and was then returned to prison. He’s not going to do it unless he’s given medical leave or allowed to stay in the hospital to recover. But the authorities didn’t agree. We’re very worried.”
Iraee was serving a six-year prison sentence beginning in October 2016 primarily for writing an unpublished story about stoning in Iran before she was released on bail in April 2019.
She could be sent back to prison if she’s convicted of the new charges brought against her and her cellmate Atena Daemi by the director of Evin Prison.
On July 10, the UN listed Sadeghi among a group of prisoners in Iran who have been repeatedly denied adequate medical treatment.
“The critical condition of human rights defender Arash Sadeghi, who has reportedly been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, is particularly alarming,” UN experts said in a statement.
Iran’s State Prisons Organization and the judiciary are responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of all detainees held in state custody. The State Prison Procedures state in Article 120 that “The head of the prison’s infirmary is required to … [ensure] that they receive adequate care from doctors and nurses, [and] he must supervise the patients’ proper diet and recovery completely and continually.”
According to the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which all UN Member States are expected to abide by, “…Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”
Yet no Iranian official has been held accountable for the multiple documented cases of death or irreparable harm suffered by political prisoners due to the lack of proper medical care in prison and the authorities denying them adequate recovery time or outside medical treatment and care.
Read this article in Persian.