Young Blogger Dies in Prison
(19 March 2009) The death of an imprisoned blogger inside Evin Prison on 18 March, following the recent death of another prisoner of conscience, demonstrates that Iranian authorities are seriously neglecting the health of prisoners the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. The Campaign called on the Iranian Judiciary to immediately investigate and prosecute prison officials for their neglect and responsibility in these deaths.
The Campaign reminds Iranian authorities that under international human rights law, they are held accountable for the health and safety of prisoners.
“Iranian leaders have relegated the administration of the prison system to a group of incompetent and cruel officials who are showing their utter disregard for human life,” said Hadi Ghaemi, the Campaign’s spokesperson.
“If the authorities do not move quickly to hold negligent officials responsible, they are reinforcing impunity and the lack of accountability,” he added.
On 18 March, 29-year-old blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi died while in Tehran’s Evin prison. According to an account by Hesam Firoozi, a physician also imprisoned in Evin, Mirsayafi had taken extra doses of his medication. Firoozi’s account, as provided by the Human Rights Activists in Iran, notes that Mirsayafi suffered from serious depression. Firoozi was present during the initial stages of Mirsayafi’s treatment inside the prison’s medical clinic and reported that the prison doctors failed to provide proper care by not sending him immediately to a hospital to save his life.
Mirsayafi was prosecuted solely for his opinions expressed in his private blog. He was charged with insulting the authorities and sentenced to two years and six months in prison.
In an interview with the Campaign on 16 December 2008, Mirsayafi said his blog was completely private and was read only by a few of his friends. He also said that expert testimony by an Intelligence Ministry official during his trial emphasized this point and that he should not receive such a heavy sentence.
Mirsayafi’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told the Campaign that Mirsayafi’s sentence was rushed into implementation without proper judicial procedures and that he had not been notified officially of the sentence before its implementation.
“From the Judge who sentenced Mirsayafi solely for his peaceful opinions, to the prison medical staff who ignored his critical condition, a host of judiciary and prison officials are responsible for his death. Mirsayafi’s death is an indication of the cruelty of Iranian Intelligence and security agencies abusing the courts with the cooperation of the Judiciary,” Ghaemi said.
On 6 March, Amir Saran, a political prisoner serving an 8-year sentence for his political activities, died of a brain stroke. His family and associates have alleged negligence and lack of proper care by prison officials as the causes of his death.