Deprivation of Medical Care Jeopardizes Political Prisoner’s Life
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki in Dire Condition Serving 15-Year Prison Term
Father Says Months-long Torture Caused Kidney Failure
(25 May 2012) The Iranian Judiciary should immediately provide medical care for political prisoner Hossein Ronaghi Maleki and avoid another human tragedy, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today. It should also end its systematic policy of denying medical care to prisoners of conscience, thereby causing them permanent physical harm and disability, the Campaign added.
On 19 May 2012, Ronaghi began a hunger strike to protest the denial of his medical furlough. Ronaghi suffers from kidney failure and has been routinely denied medical furlough since his incarceration.
“This is the fifth time he is undergoing surgery and all physicians, including the Medical Examiner, have ordered special medical care for him post-operation,” Ronaghi’s father, Ahmad Ronaghi Maleki, told the Campaign. “But they want Hossein to return to prison after his surgery, a prison that has no medical facilities, suitable nutrition, nor kidney specialists.”
“Using medical attention as leverage to bring prisoners to their knees is a shameful and inhumane practice, which Iranian intelligence has been using repeatedly,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign. “Prisoners’ health conditions should not be compromised under any circumstances.”
The Campaign has collected firsthand testimonies of purposeful deprivations of urgent medical care for prisoners of conscience. In situations where prisoners are allowed to seek medical treatment at hospitals, prison officials sometimes insist that they remain shackled even during examinations such as x-rays and scans. These shackles render the scans technically impossible, and therefore medical staff often cannot perform proper examinations for these prisoners.
“For months, my son underwent torture by his interrogators, until he lost one of his kidneys,” Ahmad Ronaghi told the Campaign. “I have a complaint against my son’s interrogators, the IRGC officials, and Judge Pirabbasi, who issued my son’s ruling,” he added.
Ronaghi’s mother told the Campaign in April 2012, “They want Hossein to accept his charges and write a confession letter before they allow him leave. They told us several times that the IRGC does not agree with his release unless he confesses.”
Ronaghi’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told the Campaign in February 2011, “According to the law, if authorities who control the prison do not take action to protect his health and remain indifferent they can be prosecuted in criminal court.”
The Campaign has documented some cases in which prisoners, after receiving permission to seek treatment and securing a date for their surgery, are returned from the hospital to prison just before the date of their scheduled surgery for completely unjustified reasons, rendering them unable to undergo the surgery.
“My son was healthy when they took him to prison. His kidneys failed like this under torture. My son’s life is now in danger. I demand that he is immediately granted furlough after his surgery. Otherwise, my son will remain in prison and if anything should happen to him, the IRGC authorities, his interrogators, and all those officials who did not use their authority [to help him] will be accountable to the world,” Ahmad Ronaghi said.
The Campaign views this continuous trend as part of a systematic and planned policy of the Judiciary, prison authorities, and intelligence services to cause permanent harm and disability to these prisoners of conscience through medical problems.
“The officials’ treatment of Ronaghi bears a striking resemblance to Hoda Saber’s case, and I sincerely hope it does not end the same way,” Ghaemi said.
The Iranian government has a history of deaths in prison. Prominent dissident Hoda Saber suffered a heart attack in prison in June 2011. Saber was denied a hospital transfer for several hours after his attack. Hospital personnel said his death could have been averted had he been brought to the hospital sooner, and officials did not notify his family of his death for two days.
Similarly, just a few days ago on 21 May 2012, prisoner Mansour Radpour died in Rajaee Shahr prison of a cerebral hemorrhage. Radpour suffered from high blood pressure and severe depression and needed medical treatment, but was ignored. He had completed a three-year sentence in 2008, but instead of being released, authorities charged him for signing a statement from within prison, and added five more years to his sentence.
The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, first approved by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in 1955, state that prisoners requiring specialized medical treatment be transferred to medical institutions if necessary to receive the care they need.
Ronaghi was sentenced in 2009 to 15 years in prison for “membership in the Iran Proxy internet group,” “propagating against the regime,” “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and “insulting the President.” His kidneys began failing in prison.
While doctors have examined Ronaghi several times, the Ministry of Intelligence has repeatedly refused to grant him medical leave. After each of his surgeries, the Ministry has denied him post-operative care, instead returning him to prison immediately. As a result, his condition continues to worsen, since he is unable to heal after his surgeries.
“Hossein has said that it is better for him to remain in prison and die, instead of having an operation and return to prison under those conditions. Hossein had no choice other than a hunger strike,” Ronaghi’s father told the Campaign.
The Campaign expressed its serious concern that Iranian intelligence and prison authorities are routinely denying proper medical care to prisoners of conscience, resulting in severe complications and even deaths.