Iran: Authorities prepare silent death of prisoners of conscience

Paris, 4 November 2013 – On 1 November 2013, prominent human rights lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani (a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC)) and three other political prisoners started a hunger strike in Evin prison in protest against the authorities’ denial of adequate medical care to dozens of sick prisoners in the prison. Two days later, about 80 prisoners also started a 3-day strike in Rajaishahr prison, near the city of Karaj, west of Tehran.

The four initial striking prisoners warned against the “gradual trend of demise of prisoners, in particular political prisoners,” that “has begun long ago” and denounced:
−    the lack of specialist doctors within prison;
−    refusal of the authorities to send political prisoners to outside medical facilities without handcuffs, shackles and prison uniform;
−    interference of security and intelligence organisations in decisions concerning despatch of prisoners to outside medical centres;
−    refusal of the authorities to provide for costly treatment and medicines for prisoners suffering from refractory diseases.
Prisoners in Rajaishahr prison are protesting against the installation of electronic jamming antennas in the prison, which have caused severe headaches and nausea among prisoners.
There are around 30 sick prisoners in Ward 350 of Evin prison alone and a number of others in Rajaishar prison as well as in other prisons.
“Authorities seem to be seeking revenge against prisoners of conscience for exercising their rights. In addition to suffering torture during pre-trial detention and harsh sentences after extremely unfair trials, they are denied access to adequate medical treatment”, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH president.
“More than two dozen prisoners of conscience have died as a result of extensive neglect under highly dubious conditions in Iranian prisons in the past few years, including Messrs Hoda Saber, Afshin Ossanlu, Mohsen Dogmechi and Alborz Qassemi”, said Shirin Ebadi, DHRC President and 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, “The Iranian authorities are silently preparing the death of prisoners of conscience”, she added.
FIDH, and its two member organisations, DHRC and LDDHI, urge the international community to express their concern for the plight of political prisoners in Iran in particular by voting for a UN resolution, bound to reflect the gross violations of human rights in the country within the next few weeks.
FIDH: Arthur Manet/ Audrey Couprie:

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