Imprisoned Unionist Undergoes Surgery Shackled To Bed
Imprisoned teacher Hashem Khastar, 57, was transferred back to Mashad’s Vakilabad Prison on Tuesday, only 24 hours after undergoing surgery at Mashad’s Imam Reza Hospital. Eight soldiers escorted Khastar back to prison, despite prison authorities’ prior promises to allow him medical leave after his surgery.
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Sedigheh Maleki, Hashem Khastar’s wife, pointed out that his doctor had prescribed medical leave for treatment, and expressed surprise that he was returned to prison less than 24 hours after the surgery. “Monday morning at 8:00 a.m., my husband had his operation; we were not allowed to meet him or even have a telephone conversation with him. We tried to meet him to no avail. Two Police soldiers and another person from the Police force were watching his room. The day before his surgery, I called the prison and other authorities ten times, till finally they said ‘you may see your husband only for a quarter of an hour during the visitation hours,’ while all the rest of the families had one hour to visit. Also last night, one of my husband’s roommates called with his mobile phone, and he gave the phone to my husband so we could talk to each other, but one of the soldiers took the phone from my husband and turned it off,” said Sedigh Maleki.
Sediqeh Maliki said that her husband was shackled to his hospital bed, and he was even sent to the operating room in the same way. “He was in good spirits. He only said that if he was supposed to return to the same polluted environment of the prison, full of infections, he thought that his condition could worsen. And now, with his advanced age, he’s been returned to prison again; and I was unable to do anything for him,” she said.
Sediqeh Maliki expressed that considering her husband’s advanced age and the polluted prison environment, he was in need of a medical leave after his surgery. “My husband had spoken with his doctor about the possibility of delaying his surgery for a few months, because there is only something like 6.5 months left of his prison term. But, his doctor said that he must be operated on now, and that any delay would be dangerous. After that, we asked the prison authorities and the prison judge to give him time off after the surgery, because, naturally, he needs to be in a non-contaminated environment. The prison judge then promised that the prison authorities would send him to the Medical Examiner prior to the surgery, and if they concurred that he needed to have time off, then they would convey it to the Prosecutor’s Office,” she said.
“But they did not take him to the Medical Examiner before the surgery, so there was no concurrence to present to the Prosecutor. Right at the time when my husband was in the operating room, I went to the prison judge and again asked for furlough. He said, ‘go to the prison authorities and get the Medical Examiner’s report.’ I said, ‘but you have not sent him to the Medical Examiner, so what report should I get!’ He said, ‘Go. They know what paper to give you.’ So, I went to the prison, but they told me ‘how come you come and go so frequently? We know how to do our jobs, and if your husband wants medical leave we’ll grant it to him ourselves,'” Sedigheh Maleki added.
Hashem Khastar’s wife pointed out that after the surgery she had only heard that her husband was well. She said: “I found out that he was doing fine, Thank God. He was healthy before going to prison, and the condition for which he received surgery, and his high blood pressure, he developed inside the prison. My husband got sick several times in prison and he was transferred to the prison’s infirmary for an examination; the prison doctor refereed him to a physician outside the prison, and that doctor prescribed surgery for him,” Khastar’s wife added.
“They did not let me see him, and they returned him to prison one day after his operation. In the corridor of the prison, they told me not to worry, God is great; God is everywhere, whether in prison or at home,” Hashem Khastar’s wife said.
Hashem Khastar is an agricultural engineer and a retired teacher who taught at a technical high school in Mashad. He heads Mashad Teachers Union. He was arrested and transferred to Vakilabad Prison while he was taking a walk in a Mashad park on 16 September 2009. A lower court sentenced Khastar to six years in prison. An appeals court reduced his sentence to two years.