Amnesty International – Iran – PRISONERS AT RISK OF COVID-19 INFECTION
Please find attached and copied below an Urgent Action that Amnesty International issued today calling on the Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing other prisoners – especially pre-trial detainees and those who may be at more risk from the virus – and take necessary measures to protect the health of all prisoners, including providing equal access to testing.
The Urgent Action is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/2038/2020/en/
Many thanks and best wishes,
URGENT ACTIONThe Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing pre-trial detainees and those who may be at particular risk of severe illness or death.TAKE ACTION: WRITE AN APPEAL IN YOUR OWN WORDS OR USE THIS MODEL LETTERHead of Judiciary Ebrahim RaisiC/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN622 Third Ave., 34th floorNew York, NY 10017, USADear Mr Ebrahim Raisi,I am writing about the distressing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. While I am aware of measures announced by the Iranian authorities to release some prisoners in response to the outbreak, I am concerned that hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain jailed, including human rights defenders, peaceful protesters and others detained solely for peacefully expressing their rights to freedom of expression, association and/or assembly. They should not be in detention in the first place.More generally, I am also concerned about the health of all prisoners in Iran. In several prisons across the country, prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, raising grave concerns for other prisoners held in the same wards. According to the World Health Organization, some groups of people appear to be at particular risk of severe illness or death, including older individuals and people with pre-existing medical conditions. Iran’s prison population includes such groups. Additionally, some prisoners have been systematically denied adequate medical care, which could leave them more vulnerable to the effects of the virus if they contracted it. Amnesty International has documented the denial of adequate medical care as a punitive measure against prisoners of conscience.Many prisoners across the country have pleaded with officials to address overcrowded, unhygienic and unsanitary conditions in prisons that put them at greater risk of COVID-19 infections. There are also reports that some prisoners have not been provided with sufficient soap or other sanitary products. Many families have also raised concerns for the wellbeing of jailed relatives and believe that the Iranian authorities should be systematically testing prisoners who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.I urge you to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders and those detained for peacefully taking part in the November 2019 and January 2020 protests. I also urge you to urgently consider releasing other prisoners – especially pre-trial detainees and those who may be more at risk from the virus – and take necessary measures to protect the health of all prisoners, including equal access to testing.Yours sincerely,
There are concerns about the spread of coronavirus inside Iran’s prisons and that the Iranian authorities have failed to sufficiently protect prison populations. The Human Rights Activists News Agency, based outside Iran, has reported that: in Shahr-e Rey prison (also known as Gharchak), in the city of Varamin, two prisoners have died from COVID-19 in solitary confinement in recent days after being denied medical care and admittance to hospital; in the same prison prior to this, despite some prisoners testing positive for coronavirus, prisoners were only checked for fevers and provided with a bleach-water solution to disinfect surfaces themselves, which, they say, emitted fumes that irritated their lungs; in Central Karaj prison, there have been new cases of coronavirus reported on a daily basis and other prisoners have gone on hunger strike in protest at the shortage of sanitary products and the lack of measures taken to prevent the spread of the virus inside the prison; in Urumieh prison, in early March 2020 over a hundred prisoners in one section of the prison went on hunger strike at the shortage of sanitary products inside the prison despite suspected cases of coronavirus among prisoners; and, in Tehran’s Evin prison, prisoners raised concerns that the women’s ward was disinfected after a guard tested positive for coronavirus, and that, prior to that, the ward had to share use of one disinfectant product between them. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organization also reported that two prisoners in Central Ahvaz prison had contracted coronavirus and that other prisoners in the same ward had not been tested. Several prisoners of conscience also went on hunger strike in Evin prison in protest at the authorities continued refusal to grant them prison leave.
Many of Iran’s prisons have detention conditions that fall far short of international standards, including with respect to overcrowding, poor ventilation, limited hot water during the winter season, inadequate food, insufficient beds and insect infestations. Seehttps://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/03/iran-new-evidence-of-appalling-treatment-of-women-human-rights-defenders-held-in-shahre-rey-prison/; and https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5515/2017/en/ for more information. Such prison conditions are highly susceptible to the spread of infectious disease.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Iran became publicly known in February 2020, many prisoners’ families have been raising concerns for the wellbeing of those jailed and calling for the release of prisoners of conscience and those held on politically motivated charges. They have repeatedly voiced their fears that the lack of sanitary products and poor prison conditions put prisoners at greater risk. They have also called on Iran’s State Prison Organization, which is under the authority of the judiciary, to regularly disinfect prisons, provide masks and hand sanitizers to prisoners, quarantine those suspected of having the virus and grant prison leave to as many prisoners as possible. While Iran’s judiciary has made a number of announcements about how it intends to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, including plans to release thousands of prisoners temporarily and upon payment of bail and to grant pardons to certain types of prisoners, hundreds of prisoners of conscience remain jailed (for more information).
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, prison populations are particularly exposed to infectious diseases like COVID-19 and conditions of detention can exacerbate the risks. These include the risk of higher transmission rates, especially in overcrowded prisons and when health systems are of poorer quality than in the community. Under international law, as reflected in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules), prison authorities must ensure that all prisoners have prompt access to medical attention and health care. The provision of health care for prisoners is a state responsibility. Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community, including when it comes to testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. Where a prison service has its own hospital facilities, they must be adequately staffed and equipped to provide prisoners referred to them with appropriate treatment and care. Prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery should be transferred to specialized institutions or to civilian hospitals.PREFERRED LANGUAGE TO ADDRESS TARGET: Persian, EnglishYou can also write in your own language.PLEASE TAKE ACTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE UNTIL: 7 May 2020Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.NAME AND PREFERRED PRONOUN: Group (them/they)
Amnesty International-Iran; Bakhtiar Rahimi, from Iran’s Kurdish minority needs immediate medical attention
Amnesty International-Iran; Bakhtiar Rahimi, from Iran’s Kurdish minority needs immediate medical attention
Please find attached and copied below an Urgent Action that Amnesty International issued today on detained labour rights activist Bakhtiar Rahimi, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, who was arrested on 27 November 2019 in Marivan, Kurdistan province. Bakhtiar Rahimi has serious heart and kidney conditions for which he needs daily medication. The Iranian authorities have denied him access to a lawyer and permitted him only one very brief phone call to his family since his arrest.
Attached to this email, please also find a picture of Bakhtiar Rahimi, the copyright of which is Private, and which you can use.
The Urgent Action is available on the Amnesty International website at the following link:https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/1605/2019/en/
Detained labor rights activist Bakhtiar Rahimi, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, was arrested on 27 November 2019 in Marivan, Kurdistan province. Bakhtiar Rahimi has serious heart and kidney conditions for which he needs daily medication. The Iranian authorities have denied him access to a lawyer and permitted him only one very brief phone call to his family since his arrest.
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Prosecutor General of Sanandaj Mohammad Jabbari
c/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28
1209 Geneva, Switzerland
H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Dear Mr. Mohammad Jabbari,
Kurdish labor rights activist Bakhtiar Rahimi, aged 45, was arrested at his place of work in Marivan, Kurdistan province, on 27 November 2019 by security forces, and forcibly disappeared until around 11 December 2019, when he was permitted to make a very brief phone call to his family. During this call, he was able only to say that he was being held in a ministry of intelligence detention facility in Sanandaj, Kurdistan province, before the phone was cut. He has not been able to speak to them again and has been denied contact with a lawyer since his arrest.
Following his arrest, Bakhtiar Rahimi’s family visited the ministry of intelligence office in Marivan multiple times to inquire about his fate and whereabouts, but officials there refused to provide them with any information and threatened them with violence. On one occasion, officials told them they would be shot if they returned. In the weeks following his arrest, a post on a pro-government Telegram channel named Bakhtiar Rahimi among a number of individuals arrested in relation to the nationwide protests that began on 15 November 2019 and alleged that they had ties to Kurdish opposition groups and had “confessed” to harming and killing some of the people in the protests. The Iranian authorities have a track record of attempting to link Kurdish civil society activists to Kurdish opposition groups and of obtaining forced “confessions” under torture or other ill-treatment to convict individuals in unfair trials.
Bakhtiar Rahimi suffers from serious heart and kidney conditions for which he requires daily medication and the regular care and monitoring of a specialist doctor. Earlier this year, Bakhtiar Rahimi suffered a heart attack. He also requires daily medication for high blood pressure.
I call on you to release Bakhtiar Rahimi immediately and unconditionally as he has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Pending this, I ask you to ensure that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, provided urgently with any medical care and medication he may require, and given access to his family and a lawyer of his choosing.