Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the many journalists and netizens who continue to be detained despite suffering serious ailments, and condemns the lack of adequate medical treatment in the prisons where they are held.
There is currently a great deal of concern about the physical condition of a group of detained contributors to the Sufi news website Majzooban Noor who began a hunger strike on 31 August in protest against their prison conditions.
“As photos of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei undergoing surgery in a modern Tehran hospital go round the world, detained journalists and netizens are being denied treatment in Iran's prisons,” said Reza Moini, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Iran-Afghanistan desk.
“Their lives are in danger amid complete silence and indifference. The regime has a duty to respect its detainees' right to health. Any violation of this fundamental principle will be regarded as a criminal failure to assist persons in danger.”
The Majzooban Noor contributors who began a hunger strike on 31 August are Reza Entesari, Hamidreza Moradi, Mostafa Abdi, Kasra Nouri and Afshin Karampour. Their jailed lawyers, Amir Islami, Farshid Yadollahi, Mostafa Daneshjo and Omid Behrouzi, have joined the hunger strike. Majzooban Noor is a news website that supports the Nematollahi Gonabadi order of Sufism.
The journalists and netizens working for Majzooban Noor were arrested during a government offensive against Sufis on 8-10 September 2011 and were sentenced on 13 July 2013, at the end of an unfair trial before a Tehran court, to jail terms ranging from six month to eight years.
Since then, they have been held in Tehran's Evin prison or in Nezam prison in Shiraz, in the southeastern province of Fars.
Several of them, especially Entesari, Daneshjo, Moradi and Karampour, have been critically ill in their cells but have been refused the treatment they badly need because the prison and judicial authorities rarely authorize transfers to hospitals.
Reporters Without Borders points out that:
- According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party, denying medical care can constitute a violation of the ban on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
- The internal regulations of Iran’s prisons, issued by the judicial body in charge of managing detention centres, require prison officials to provide detainees with the medical care they need. Articles 102 and 103 of the regulations say that “monthly medical checks are obligatory in the prison clinic” and that “if necessary, the detainee must be transferred urgently from the prison to the hospital.” These regulations also say that the judge in charge of the case is responsible for the health and safety of any prisoner with a serious and incurable illness.
Iran is one of the world's most repressive countries as regards freedom of information. It is ranked 173rd of 180 countries in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.