Imprisoned Activist Atena Daemi Slapped With New Charge For Demanding Medical Care
Activist Denied Care Despite Medical Examiner’s Recommendation
Already serving a seven-year prison sentence, imprisoned children’s rights activist Atena Daemi has been issued a new charge and is being denied medical treatment, a source close to Daemi’s family told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“The head of Evin Prison [Ali Chaharmahali] and the director of the prison clinic, someone named ‘Abbaskhani’—have filed a complaint against Atena accusing her of pretending to be sick and insulting the staff when she was told by doctors that nothing was wrong with her,” said the source.
Branch 4 of the Evin Court in Tehran formally charged Daemi with “insulting officials” and “disturbing public order” on July 26, 2017, added the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Political prisoners in Iran are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.
Daemi, 29, was previously on hunger strike for nearly two months to protest a preliminary court’s ruling against her and her two sisters, Onsieh and Hanieh, for allegedly “insulting” agents of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and resisting arrest.
She ended her protest on June 3, 2017 after they were all acquitted on appeal.
Since November 26, 2016, Daemi has been serving a seven-year prison sentence for meeting the families of political prisoners, criticizing the Islamic Republic of Iran on Facebook, and condemning the mass executions of political prisoners in Iran in 1988.
“To fight the IRGC’s accusations, Atena had no choice but to go on hunger strike,” the informed source told CHRI. “In her own defense, Atena has asked for a trusted doctor to investigate whether she was pretending or not and she wants the prison warden and the medical services officials to be prosecuted for denying her sufficient medical care.”
“Her biggest problem right now is that she needs to be taken to the hospital for treatment,” said the source.
The source added that despite the medical examiner’s recommendation, Daemi has not been allowed to see specialists outside the prison to treat infections in her kidney and complications from gallbladder stones.
“On Saturday [August 12, 2017], we took her laboratory test results to a specialist doctor and he wrote a letter explaining all the problems,” the source told CHRI. “We took the letter to Evin Prison’s legal affairs director, Mr. Hajmoradi, who asked the medical examiner to investigate.”
“The medical examiner confirmed the infection in Atena’s kidney, but said the stones in her gallbladder are not large enough to need an operation,” added the source. “Even though she is not well, they are not allowing her to get treatment. Instead they are claiming she colluded with doctors to build a case against the prison clinic.”
On July 8, 2017, Daemi and fellow political prisoner Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee wrote a joint letter describing their experiences in Evin Prison after foreign ambassadors were given a staged tour of certain sections of the facility.
“Did they tell you about unsanitary conditions and women’s health? Or about the conditions inside the clinic where they prescribe wrong medications? Or about using sanctions and budget cuts as an excuse for the lack of disinfectants and cleaning material?” wrote the activists.
“Have they told you that for religious reasons, male prison doctors do not check female prisoners or give them injections and blood pressure tests? Have they told you there is not even one female nurse to carry out these tasks? Do you know how many hundreds or thousands of inmates suffer from kidney problems because of the prison’s unhealthy water?” asked the political prisoners.
*This article as revised on February 22, 2018, to reflect that Atena Daemi is 29-years-old. She turns 30 in April 2018.