Civil Rights Activist Arash Sadeghi Repeatedly Denied Medical Treatment for “Paralyzed” Arm
Rajaee Shahr Prison Director Creating Obstacles to Hospital Transfers
Political prisoner Arash Sadeghi is dangerously ill yet Iranian authorities continue to prevent his transfer to a hospital, his wife told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“Arash’s right hand has gotten infected and become completely paralyzed and he needs to receive treatment from a doctor outside prison,” said Golrokh Iraee Ebrahimi on October 18, 2019.
“Since June  the authorities have promised to send him to the hospital on four occasions but every time they failed to do so without any explanation,” she said.
Political prisoners in Iran, including elderly inmates, are singled out for harsh treatment, which often includes denial of medical treatment. The threat of withheld medical care has also been used as an intimidation tool against prisoners who have challenged the authorities or filed complaints.
Ebrahimi noted that Sadeghi’s last scheduled transfer from Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran, to a hospital was due to take place on September 23 but it never happened.
“They said he had to be taken in a prison uniform with cuffs on his hands and feet but Arash refused and they again didn’t transfer him,” she said.
Political prisoners in Iran are allowed to wear their own, prison-approved clothing and are not required to be transported in cuffs. They often refuse to be transported in uniforms or cuffs as a means of preserving their dignity.
“Amin Vaziri, the presiding judicial official [in Rajaee Shahr Prison] is not responding to inquiries from Arash’s family,” Ebrahimi told CHRI. “Since his promotion, Vaziri has made it obligatory for prisoners to have hand and feet cuffs and wear a uniform [during transfers], knowing that the political prisoners will resist. Basically, he is creating a situation to make them reject transfers and then blaming them for it.”
Diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer according to his family, the political prisoner underwent an operation to remove a tumor from his right shoulder on September 11, 2018.
“The most worrying aspect is that Arash’s right arm has become badly inflamed due to the infection,” Ebrahimi told CHRI. “When I visited him after my release from prison, I saw that there was little movement in his hand but now it has completely lost mobility and become numb.”
She continued: “I asked the medical specialist about it and he said the infection needs to be drained from under Arash’s skin because the antibiotics are no longer effective. He has been given antibiotic pills in prison and sometimes he has been receiving antibiotics through injections. We hope they will transfer him to the hospital to drain the injection or else Arash will lose his arm. His cellmates say he cannot use his arm at all.”
Ebrahimi noted that Sadeghi requires regular MRIs to ensure his cancer is in remission and has not spread to other parts of his body.
“Also, the doctor told Arash that he needs to get a full-body scan every four months because there’s a possibility that the cancer may return to the spot on his shoulder or spread to other parts,” she said. “But he has not gotten a scan since his operation last year.”
Since June 2016, Sadeghi has been serving a 15-year prison sentence for engaging in peaceful civil rights activism under the charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “spreading lies in cyberspace,” and “insulting the founder of the Islamic Republic.”
Ebrahimi told CHRI that her husband’s medical problems began as a result of being tortured during interrogations.
“Arash’s right shoulder was broken during beatings in Ward 209 [under the control of the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran’s Evin Prison] when he was first arrested in 2009,” Ebrahim said. “The X-rays clearly showed broken bones in his shoulder and ribs. The medical specialists said it was possible the tumor developed because he had not been properly treated.”
Ebrahimi, who was imprisoned from October 2016 to April 2019 for writing an unpublished story about stoning in Iran, is currently facing an additional 2.1 years of imprisonment after losing her appeal in September 2019 against a conviction on the charges of “insulting the supreme leader” and “propaganda against the state.”
Read this article in Persian.