Kurdish-Iranian Political Prisoner Zeinab Jalalian Continuously Denied Medical Care
“Her youth is wasting away in prison and her health is in danger.”
Kurdish-Iranian political activist Zeinab Jalalian, who has been imprisoned for nearly 10 years, continues to be denied specialist medical treatment despite suffering from serious health issues, her father Ali Jalalian told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
In a phone interview on February 13, 2018, Ali Jalalian said prison authorities have ignored his daughter’s symptoms “for years.”
“Since the authorities themselves won’t dispatch her to an outside hospital, we are asking to at least grant her medical leave so that we can take her to a specialist. It’s not just her eyes. For years we have told the authorities and said in interviews that she has intestinal and digestive problems and needs treatment. She has been in pain for years but no one pays attention,” Jalalian said.
Zeinab Jalalian, 35, was arrested in 2007 and has been held in Khoi Prison in West Azerbaijan Province since 2008. She is serving a life sentence for her alleged membership in the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (known as PJAK and PEJAK), a militant Kurdish group based in the country’s northwest.
“The last time I saw Zeinab, her eyes were in really bad shape,” her father told CHRI. “Her vision has been practically impaired and she needs to get an operation outside prison. But so far the authorities have refused many requests, even though we were asked and offered a property deed as a security deposit. She has been denied medical leave for more than 10 years. It’s very hard. Her youth is wasting away in prison and her health is in danger.”
Ali Jalalian added: “I’ve been sick and I was in the hospital. I came back home two days ago so I wasn’t able to visit her. Her mother is old and ill, too; she can’t go either. Her brother isn’t here either. So she hasn’t had a visitor for more than two months, during which time we haven’t even been able to talk to Zeinab on the phone. She has called a few times but every time when we start to talk, the line cuts off. She tries again, and again it gets cut off. I don’t know what the problem is.”
All prisoners in Iran have the right to receive a medical checkup at least once a month and to be transferred to the hospital for emergencies under articles 102 and 103 of Iran’s State Prisons Organization Regulations. But political prisoners in Iran are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical care.
The threat of withheld medical care has also been used as an intimidation tool against prisoners who have challenged the authorities or filed complaints.