Imprisoned Iranian Activist Requires Immediate Medical Leave
Freedom House calls for the immediate release on medical leave of Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, one of the first Iranian bloggers to criticize internet censorship in Iran. Ronaghi Maleki suffers from severe kidney disease and is in urgent need of extended medical leave and access to independent doctors unaffiliated with the government. Although he was moved to a hospital on June 4, 2012, the authorities continue to interfere with his medical treatment. His doctor has told his family that he could be dead within a week because his blood is becoming infected and his second and only remaining kidney requires immediate surgery.
Ronaghi Maleki was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 for his efforts to curb the Iranian regime’s attempts at internet censorship. His kidneys began to fail following severe torture and imprisonment in Ward 350 of Evin Prison.
“This courageous activist is taking a stand against the inhuman treatment he is suffering at the hands of Iranian authorities,” said Daniel Calingaert, vice president for policy and external affairs at Freedom House. “He has refused further medical treatment under the watch of prison authorities, because they have repeatedly prevented him from getting adequate health care.”
On several occasions his hands have been tied during surgeries and Iranian authorities have ordered that he be returned to his cell in the middle of surgery.
Ronaghi Maleki began a hunger strike on May 23, 2012 to protest his mistreatment, and a letter was recently signed by 117 political prisoners in Ward 350 of Evin Prison calling for his release to receive immediate medical care. Ronaghi Maleki’s situation is only one example of a systematic attempt by Iranian authorities to deny medical care to political prisoners.
“Our hearts go out to the imprisoned activists who face denial of health care as a form of torture,” said Charles Dunne, director for Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House. “In just the last few weeks, two other political prisoners have died due to similar medical negligence by Iran’s authorities. The Iranian government must not be permitted to allow this human tragedy to go on.”
Iran is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of fundamental freedoms, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012, where it ranked 192 out of 197 countries, and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2011.
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