Committee of Human Rights Reporters – Jailed labor activist Reza Shahabi’s health is plunging behind bars as prison officials refuse to grant furlough for his medical needs. The treasurer of Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) has said he will resort to going on hunger strike in protest.
Mahmoud Salehi, labor activist and spokesperson for Committee to Defend Reza Shahabi in Iran, said in an interview with CHRR, “Mr. Reza Shahabi has been in very poor health since his return behind bars from furlough. He is in excruciating pain in his neck area, suffers from a cervical and spine injury, and has dangerous fluctuations in his blood pressure. Despite all of this, he has not been seen by a specialist physician while behind bars. He and his family have made numerous requests for him to be transferred to a hospital to receive necessary care, but to no avail. The officials just take him to the Evin prison infirmary as an outpatient and give him pain medication.”
Salehi was asked about the types of pain medication that are administered to Reza Shahabi behind bars. “The physicians employed in the infirmaries of Iran’s prisons are general practitioners. Since most prisoners are non-political, the GP’s just to the minimum needed to get the prisoners out of the infirmary and there is no separation of political or criminal prisoners. They usually just give the prisoners pain killers and sleeping pills because they are not specialists and don’t have access to any other type of medication.”
Mahmoud Salehi, labor activist and former political prisoner, made a request that Reza Shahabi be transferred to a hospital with specialized care and not be taken to a public facility that is not capable of handling Shahabi’s medical needs.
CHRR asked the spokesperson for Committee to Defend Reza Shahabi about the possibility of another hunger strike. “We have made a request to Mr. Shahabi that he refrain from going on another hunger strike. However we cannot make decisions for a prisoner because we are free and not behind bars; we cannot fully know the circumstances that the prisoner is faced with in prison. Only the prisoner profoundly suffers the experience, faces the difficulties and endures the hardships.”
In ending Mahmoud Salehi while expressing his deep worry for Reza Shahabi said, “At the very least I hope a new case file is not generated for Mr. Shahabi with the excuse that he had a leave of absence, so that he can finally receive his crucial medical care after the end of his prison term in [late March 2014].