Prisoners in Karaj Demand Visit by UN Special Rapporteur to Address Poor Prison Conditions
Following a hunger strike by political prisoners at Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, Ali Tabarzadi, son of political prisoner Heshmatollah Tabarzadi spoke with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran about his recent visit with his father. “I had a booth visit with my father last Thursday. He told me political prisoners from different age groups have joined the hunger strike and are following it together. He said that during the first week, the hunger strike took place for one day, then two days on the second week, and three days on the third week, and so on, with more days as the weeks go by. This strike will go on until the situation in the prison is noticeable,” said Ali Tabarzadi.
“My father told me that they might transfer them to a ward called ‘The Island.’ All contact will be cut off for political prisoners in this ward and it seems that even authorities’ contact with the ward will be reduced. It is like a prison within a prison,” he said.
“Right now, their most important demand is a review of their hygienic, medical, and food conditions. They don’t have a library or an exercise area. They demand that the UN Special Rapporteur visit and see the conditions of the prisoners. They object to the way visitations are conducted and things that have happened to their families during this time,” Ali Tabarzadi added.
The hunger strike by political prisoners inside Rajaee Shahr Prison is part of a series of hunger strikes by political detainees. Their physical conditions are substandard and prisoners have not been given nutritious or healthy food during their entire imprisonment. Among the prisoners, trade union leader Mansour Osanloo suffers from a severe heart condition, journalist Issa Saharkhiz is no longer able to walk properly, and student activists Rassoul Bodaghi and Majid Tavakoli were severely beaten by prison authorities recently.
Ali Tabarzadi told the Campaign that the only thing that can be done at this time is to speak up and share information, hoping to force authorities into changing the situation. “We only have the small communication opportunities of visiting our imprisoned family members through a booth. My dad was upset this week when I went to visit with him. He had seen his old mother who had gone to see him under very bad conditions in her wheelchair. After waiting for a long time and when my father was not given furlough, my grandmother finally went to see him in her wheelchair. She had to go down a long distance from the prison entrance to the visitation location. My dad was upset because nobody helped her. Maybe the authorities enjoy watching such scenes,” he added.
Heshmatollah Tabarzadi was arrested on 27 December 2009 and placed in solitary confinement inside security wards 209 and 240 of Evin Prison where he was interrogated and tortured. After being transferred to Evin Prison’s General Ward, he was exiled to Rajaee Shahr Prison in May 2010 after he objected to the executions of five political prisoners, including Kurdish teacher Farzad Kamangar.