UN human rights experts have expressed alarm over the deteriorating health of jailed activist Arash Sadeghi, a cancer patient, and called for his immediate release.
“Arash Sadeghi suffers from life-threatening bone cancer, and he has been deprived of some medication he requires since his arrest in October,” the UN experts including Javaid Rehman, special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, said.
Sadeghi, 36, who is currently held by the intelligence ministry at its own dedicated ward at Tehran’s Evin prison, was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2018.His cancer-affected arm had to be amputated in 2019. He also suffers from various kidney and stomach problems resulting from hunger strikes.
Sadeghi was arrested on October 20 for unknown reasons during the ongoing anti-government protests that began in September and have spread to many cities and towns across the country.
Sadeghi has been in and out of prison many times since 2009 and has gone on hunger strike several times, including a 71-day hunger strike in protest to his wife’s arbitrary detention in 2016.
Iranian authorities have repeatedly denied him proper medical care outside prison, despite his physicians’ advice, including after a serious infection following a surgery to remove the tumor in his arm in 2018.
UN experts said in their statement Friday that they have sent five official letters on Sadeghi’s detention to the Iranian government between 2016 and 2020 about his arbitrary arrest and detention, violations of his right to fair trial and due process, as well as his poor detention conditions. They specifically highlighted that the activist had been deprived of medical care.
The experts have also noted that Sadeghi’s case is not an isolated one.
“We remain gravely concerned about the safety of prisoners in Iran, particularly those who have been arrested and arbitrarily detained in connection with the current wave of protests in the country,” the experts said while noting that, according to civil society organizations, by April this year 65 persons had died in detention since 2017 because they were denied access to medical care.
There are several other reports about life-threating denial of medical care for those arrested in recent protests.
The US-based Center for Iran Human Rights reported Friday that Hajir (Hazhir) Bakhishi who was arrested in protests in Tehran in September was denied access to vital medicine. The computer engineer was beaten up during his arrest and had head trauma. He has been charged with “assembly and collusion against national security” by Tehran Revolutionary Court and is held at the notorious Fashafouyeh Prison in the south of Tehran.
According to Iran Human Rights News Agency (HRANA), theater actor Nazi (Fatemeh) Habibi, is also being denied medical care. Authorities of Qarchak Prison in the south of Tehran have reportedly refused to accept medications from her family while also denying her the right to see her lawyer and pressuring her for self-incriminating “confessions”. Habibi was reportedly arrested on November 24 with several other artists for staging a street play in Tehran.
“Given the large number of allegations of torture and ill-treatment in Iranian detention facilities brought to our attention, we are fearful about the potential for irreversible health consequences for detainees, especially those being deprived of critical medical care,” the UN experts said.