Kaleme – Hamed Rouhinejad is held in a two-person cell in Zanjan prison. The vicinity resembles a campground and lacks a suitable medical facility. When he was transferred from Tehran to Zanjan, Hamed’s health deteriorated considerably due to lack of medical care. He is now at serious risk of dementia and death.
[Hamed Rouhinejad was arrested in May 2009. He initially received a sentence of death by branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court when he participated in the summer 2009 show trials. In January 2010, his sentence was reduced to ten years in prison exile.] On August 26, 2010, Hamed Rouhinejad was transferred from Evin to Zanjan prison in exile. The change in location has caused unbearable duress for Hamed who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS).
When he was held in Evin prison, he got by with the aid of his friends. They would hold his hands and do anything to relieve his suffering. They would help him with his baths and take him to get some air when they could. While in Evin prison, the medical personnel warned authorities that imprisoning Hamed under [prison] conditions is extremely dangerous.
Hamed’s family was shocked and surprised when, despite the doctors’ warnings, he was moved to Zanjan prison in a campground with no real medical facility. Hamed’s father has stated in numerous interviews that his son is near death and will not stay alive longer than a month in Zanjan prison. Due to his [severe] medical condition, the exile sentence is unbearable for Hamed and his family.
The Kaleme website interviewed Hamed Rouhinejad’s father.
Kaleme: Mr Rouhinejad, please tell us about the latest status on Hamed’s mental and physical condition. Have you seen him lately?
Father: I saw him less than two weeks ago. Hamed was in critical physical condition. He said the MS has now affected his hearing too. So much of his body, including his eyes, ears, liver, and stomach are severely damaged. His brain and memory are impaired and we are very worried about him.
Kaleme: Has his lawyer taken any legal action in regards to Hamed’s grave condition? Are the judicial authorities aware of Hamed’s disease and deteriorating health?
Father: No. I got in touch with his lawyer and told him about Hamed’s deteriorating condition. But, sadly, his hands are tied and there is nothing else he can do. His lawyer said that he managed to get Hamed’s death sentence reduced to ten years, but, unfortunately, that is all he can do.
Kaleme: Considering his situation, doesn’t Hamed have the right to request a temporary leave for treatment?
Father: I discussed this request at the prosecutor’s office today and even brought it up with the prison superintendent. They said that Hamed must make this request himself from inside the prison. If his request is approved, he will be granted a sick leave. If it is not approved, he will remain incarcerated. In other words, he will have to complete the *Seven Labours of Rostam before he is granted permission.
Kaleme: Has your son presented a written request?
Father: Yes. He has made several written requests for a sick leave. He had also written requests during the time he was incarcerated in Tehran. Hamed is now in a two-person cell in Zanjan prison, a facility that resembles a campground. His condition has worsened considerably due to the unequipped medical unit at this location. There is no comparison between now and when he was in Tehran. He is now bordering psychosis and death.
Kaleme: How about you? Have you ever made a request for a sick leave on his behalf? After all, your son is afflicted with a very difficult disease.
Father: Yes, I have made requests to Tehran’s Attorney General, Mr. Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, but he did not accept them. Even the legal doctor of Imam Khomeini hospital confirmed Hamed’s dire situation, but, unfortunately, the efforts proved fruitless. Then to our absolute astonishment and horror, they transferred him to Zanjan prison. Since this move, Hamed’ situation has become increasingly dreadful. Now I have come to Zanjan. I will try to do anything in my power to help, because if not, he will be gone.
Kaleme: Mr. Rouhinejad, some websites have published news of an increase in Hamed’s sentencing. Is this accurate?
Father: Unfortunately one year has been added to his sentence due to the charge of “illegally exiting the country.”
Kaleme: Was this charge not deliberated during his trial?
Father: Yes, it was, but during the trial, no opinion was given in regards to this one charge. Now, sadly, despite Hamed’s grave condition. I even talked to Zanjan’s Attorney General. I don’t know what else I should do.
Kaleme: Is it possible to appeal this verdict?
Father: No, there is no possibility for an appeal.
Kaleme: Your son has been accused of involvement in an illegal political organization. Did Hamed ever accept these charges against him? Is there any documentation regarding proof of this charge in his files?
Father: My son has never been affiliated with any political group. Our family and Hamed have many times, over and over again, expressed that these accusations are false. All this suffering and anguish is because of one illegal exit from the country.
Kaleme: Mr. Rouhinejad, in your opinion, what could possibly be the reason for the issuance of a verdict in exile for Hamed, considering his very dire medical condition?
Father: Many times I have asked this question to authorities at Zanjan prison. They say that they were informed of this decision after it had been made in Tehran. Zanjan prison authorities are under orders to not allow Hamed any visitors, and he is to be held in the high security area.
Kaleme: The latest news that some websites have published is that Hamed has gone on hunger strike. Can you confirm this news?
Father: The last time I was him, he wanted to go on hunger strike due to his miserable condition. I had to plead and beg with him to refrain from doing so. I told him you will get injections worth 50-60 USD a week for your condition, don’t do this. He replied, “Dad, when all my existence is in this tiny dark cell with no peace, what is the point of taking medicine and staying alive?’ He told me that if he does not get moved out of Zanjan prison in one week, he will go on hunger strike, and he would like to die. The hunger strike has probably begun by now because we have not heard from him in two weeks. We are extremely stressed and distraught because he is prohibited from using the phone or meeting anyone.
Kaleme: What request do you have from the judicial authorities in Iran?
Father: I ask from all internal and international organizations, the Secretary-General of the UN, and Doctors without Borders to please examine my son’s situation. If they conclude that my son can endure being in prison under these conditions, there will be no objection. But anyone who sees Hamed just for a few minutes knows that he will not survive these conditions. I don’t believe my child will survive another month.
I have a question for the judicial authorities of Iran: how can my son who is so sick with paralysis in half of his body be a threat to the Islamic Republic in any way? Why are they doing this to him?
My child is innocent. He was put under severe pressure during the show trials and forced to make false confessions. He has since denied all the charges. His biggest crime was his illegal exit from the country. According to the laws of Iran, a person who cannot survive a penalty must be freed. Why do they not follow this law as it pertains to my sick and paralyzed son?
* Editor’s Note: Hamed Rouhinejad’s father makes reference to the Seven Labours of Rostam to emphasize how impossible it has been to convince authorities to allow a prison sick leave for his son, Iranian student Hamed Rouhinejad. The Seven Labours of Rostam are a series of challenging acts carried out by the great Persian hero Rostam.