Why Was Teachers’ Rights Activist Hashem Khastar Sent to a Mental Hospital With No Signs of Illness?
Khastar Was Tending to a Garden When “Plainclothes” Agents Arrested Him
*Editor’s Update: Teachers’ rights activist HashemKhastar was released November 10, 2018, from the psychiatric facility in Mashhad where he had been illegally held since October 23.
Teachers’ rights activist Hashem Khastar was having a day like any other when a group of men accosted him in the Iranian city of Mashhad, put him in an ambulance, and took him to a mental hospital without providing any explanation.
“He said he thought they’re going to kill him,” Khastar’s wife, Sedigheh Malekifar, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on October 25, 2018.
Malekifar added that both the Intelligence Ministry and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) Intelligence Organization—the main authorities that arrest peaceful activists in Iran—had denied arresting Khastar.
After making many inquiries, she finally found out that her husband, a retired teacher, was being kept in the hospital on the order of the public and revolutionary prosecutor of Mashhad, Gholamali Sadeghi. When she demanded his release, hospital staff told her that they could not do anything unless the prosecutor allowed it.
Khastar has also been forced to take medication in the Ibn-e Sina and Dr. Hejazi Psychiatry Hospital in Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi Province, since being committed there on October 23. According to an open letter by his wife published on October 27, he was arrested by “plainclothes” men while tending to a garden he maintains on the “outskirts of the city.”
According to Article 3 of Iran’s Guidelines for Mental Rehabilitation Centers for Acute Mental Patients, “If the patient has not been diagnosed as mentally disabled by the Medical Board or a judicial body, his/her consent is necessary to be admitted for treatment.”
However, Iranian law gives security forces and the judiciary the upper hand in all legal cases involving activists and other individuals targeted by Iran’s security establishment. It is also not known whether Khastar has been given access to a lawyer.
Following is Malekifar’s full testimony to CHRI:
When we went to the hospital, we were told he’s not allowed to have visits. They said we have to bring a letter from the prosecutor’s office. We went to the prosecutor’s office today and he wasn’t there but his assistants said they had not ordered his arrest. They contacted the IRGC’s Intelligence Organization and they all said they had no information.
One of the assistant prosecutors said he would coordinate with other authorities and make arrangements so I could see my husband. He told us to be at the hospital at 3:30. We went there at 3:30 and … finally, at five, the Intelligence Ministry’s agents arrived and I was allowed to visit my husband.
I visited him and he was well. I asked him why he had been arrested. He said when he parked and got out of his car, there was an ambulance there and a few men led him inside and said he must come with them. He said he thought they were going to kill him.
My husband said that when he was being dragged into the ambulance, he asked them why they were treating him that way. He said they could have come to his home instead of dragging him away in the middle of nowhere. But they didn’t say anything and took him to the hospital, which was a complete surprise, and laid him on a bed and gave him an injection, which they said was a blood test to see if he had any diseases. Since then, he has not gotten a check-up or any medication.
The IRGC’s Intelligence Organization said they had nothing to do with this and the Intelligence Ministry said they weren’t the ones either. Nobody is taking responsibility…
My husband is not sick and he has no history of [mental] illness. Even if he is sick, we want to take him home. But the hospital people told us we couldn’t do so without permission from the prosecutor. We don’t know what’s going on.
*This article was corrected on November 5, 2018, to reflect the correct spelling of Khastar’s wife’s last name: Malekifar not Maleki.