Kurdistan Amnesty urges Iran to stop 'taking health hostage' for political prisoners

Amnesty urges Iran to stop 'taking health hostage' for political prisoners
Zeinab (Zeynab) Jalalian was injured when interrogators reportedly hit her head against the wall, fracturing her skull causing a brain haemorrhage and vision impairment. (Photo: Archive)

LONDON, United Kingdom (Kurdistan24) – Amnesty International (AI) warned Iran on Monday about causing death, disability, and health issues to political prisoners by denying them adequate and timely medical care.

In the report, Health taken hostage: Cruel denial of medical care in Iran’s prisons, AI documents that in many cases Iran intentionally abuses ailing political prisoners and prisoners of conscious. 

The report states that Iran denies medical care to deliberately and cruelly “intimidate, punish or humiliate political prisoners, or to extract forced ‘confessions’ or statements of ‘repentance’ from them.”

Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme, said that such behavior is no less than torture.

“Prisoners’ access to health care is a right enshrined in both international and Iranian law,” Luther said.

“When depriving a prisoner of medical care causes severe pain or suffering, and it is intentionally done…it constitutes torture,” he added.

AI highlighted the case of Kurdish prisoner Zainab (Zeynab) Jalalian as an example of withholding medical care to ‘extract information.’

Jalalian, 32-years-old, was engaged in social and political activism, in particular assisting Kurdish women by providing education and social services in Iran and Iraq.

She was arrested in 2008 and is now at risk of losing her eyesight because of the delays for her treatment.

“Her family believes she was injured when interrogators repeatedly hit her head against the wall, fracturing her skull causing a brain hemorrhage and vision impairment,” AI reported.

“She urgently needs an eye operation, but the authorities have repeatedly refused to authorize her transfer to a hospital. Intelligence officers have told her she would first have to provide ‘confessions,’” AI added.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) announced in a statement that Iran's detention of Jalalian has been arbitrary.

Among other forms of abuse highlighted is another Kurdish political prisoner Afshin Sohrabzadeh, who suffers intestine cancer.

Iran reportedly told Sohrabzadeh, “If you cannot provide a property bond for your medical leave that is not a problem. We will send your body to a mortuary and your mother and father can go and pick it up.”

He was finally allowed temporary medical leave on June 25.

However, according to AI Sohrabzadeh “remains unable to fund his treatment because the intelligence authorities have confiscated his national identification documents, preventing him from applying for government-subsidized health care.”

Additionally, the United Nations revealed in a previous report that Iran denies medical attention to prisoners.

Ahmad Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and other experts agree on the mistreatment of prisoners.

“The denial of medical care, physical abuse, either in overcrowded prisons or in solitary confinement, and other forms of torture and ill-treatment exposes prisoners to [the] risk of serious injuries and death,” Shaheed said.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany