Dissident Cleric Suffers Seizures And Heart Attack In Prison
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the mother of Arash Honarvar Shojaee, a dissident blogger and cleric who has been on hunger strike since June 30, said her son’s mental and physical condition was very severe and worrisome during her last visit.
Farideh Honarvar Shojayee told the Campaign she that during her booth visit with her son on June 30, “Arash’s health was very bad. Though they have been giving him his medicine, more or less, for the last few days, but he is not well yet. The hunger strike has also affected his health. He has lost weight, his blood pressure has dropped, and he said he has had repeated seizures and heart attacks in the prison. Unfortunately, his medicines have not been given to him in a regular manner.”
Arash Honarvar Shojaee was arrested on October 28, 2010, and sentenced to four years in prison, 50 lashes, $800 in cash fines, and lifetime defrocking as a cleric on charges of espionage, propaganda against the regime, acting against national security, and disrespecting the clergy. About a month ago, he was given a furlough for medical treatment, and with expiration of his furlough period, he returned to Evin Prison on June 30, but on that same day entered into a wet hunger strike to protest his situation.
Farideh Honarvar Shojaee told the Campaign that her son was healthy prior to his imprisonment. “Arash did not have epilepsy prior to going to prison; I mean he did not have any illnesses. During his medical furlough leave, he was examined by various medical doctors, and it was determined that while he was in solitary confinement, the beatings and tortures he was subjected to caused a blood clot in his head. Unfortunately, this blood clot has not yet been absorbed into the body, and it is not in a specific location that it could be eliminated by surgery. The doctors have said, this illness might stay with him forever and he may always have to remain under drug treatment.”
“He is suffering from epilepsy and is under medical treatment, and for this reason he took his medication with him to prison, but prison officials confiscated his medication and refused to give them to him for the first few days. Not taking his medicine worsened his condition and led to frequent seizures. He will face a new trial on Wednesday, July 11, at Branch 3 of the Special Clerical Court. His charge in this court is ‘publishing falsehoods with the intent to create public anxiety” for an interview he gave Kaleme Website,” said Farideh Honarvar Shojaee.
On the eighth day of his hunger strike, Honarvar wrote a letter to the Head of Judiciary, which was published on Kaleme, a website that is critical of the government. In his letter, Honarvar enumerated the four reasons that have caused him to go on hunger strike. He will continue his hunger strike until he receives a reply for all the points, according to the letter. Among his reasons for his hunger strike are “fabrication of a scenario [about him] by the Intelligence Ministry,” and “putting him on a new trial.”
“I request that first of all Arash be given furlough for treatment of his illness. He must heal so he’ll be able to defend himself in court. Arash does not have a lawyer. The Special Clerical Court did not give us permission to choose a lawyer. They showed us a list of lawyers, whom they regard as qualified, to choose from, we have no knowledge about any of these lawyers. At least, according to medical evidence that is available, first allow Arash to heal, then he could later defend himself in court,” said Farideh Honarvar Shojaee.
Regarding the Wednesday’s court trial, Farideh Honarvar Shojaee told the Campaign, “I do not know at all why he must be tried again! I do not know at all.”