Former Iranian deputy foreign minister, Mohsen Aminzadeh, has been hospitalised after a sharp decline in his health following his hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin prison.
According to opposition website Kaleme, Aminzadeh was transferred to the critical care unit of Tehran’s Modarres hospital on Saturday morning after a deterioration of his health resulting from a hunger strike which began eight days ago.
On 18 June, Aminzadeh and eleven other political prisoners in ward 350 of Evin prison began an “indefinite” hunger strike to protest the recent killings of two other political prisoners, Haleh Sahabi and Reza Hoda Saber, and the ongoing human rights abuses in the country. Days later, six other political prisoners in Rajaei Shahr prison also joined in the hunger strikes in solidarity with their comrades in captivity.
Aminzadeh’s wife Mahnaz Asgharzadeh said that Security agents present at the hospital would not allow Aminzadeh’s family to get near him. According to her, he suffers from blood pressure and kidney problems which make the hunger strike even more life threatening.
The former deputy foreign minister had recently received furlough in order to receive medical attention. He joined the hunger strikers immediately after being called back to prison.
Commenting on Aminzadeh’s return to prison despite having been released on medical grounds, Asgharzadeh said, “this was apparently due to the fact that he had taken part in a memorial service for Mr Hoda Saber.” “The night before, they contacted my husband and asked him not to attend the service, but he had become distraught over the death of Mr Saber and was against this. He believed that this request was inconsistent with human values. My husband said ‘Mr Saber was my friend and cellmate. I had lived with him for months. We had endured the harsh prison conditions together for months, and it would be unthinkable for me not to attend a ceremony in his honour’.”
“He is against the idea of hunger strikes,” she said. “But the heartbreaking death of Mr Sabr was an entirely different affair. When he [Aminzadeh] learned of his fellow inmates’ collective decision to show their protest and rage against this injustice by means of hunger strike, he also announced that he would join them after the end of his furlough.”
She went on to add, “a prisoner must have endured severe hardship before being forced go on hunger strike and to show his protest in this manner. We have used legal channels to complain about the conditions in prison. Time after time, we’ve written letters to the authorities appealing for the right to make phone calls, but we only witnessed the worsening of their conditions.”
“The only thing we can do is to be patient. We must wait until Monday to learn more about their condition. We’ve protested a lot. But it would appear that these protests have turned into a normal routine. Personally, I will no longer write any letters to them, because so far, they have not responded to any of our requests,” she added.
“I hold Prison and judiciary officials responsible for my husband’s life. For two years now, he’s been behind bars as a result of injustices and during this period, has become physically very weak. But we are extremely concerned about the reoccurrence of a catastrophe similar to the prison authorities’ indifference which led to the death of Mr Hoda Saber.”
“I urge the authorities to prevent further tragedies as quick as possible,” she told green website Jaras.
“Even the death of our loved ones has no importance for them,” Asgharzadeh added. “This is what’s concerning for all of us families, because we’ve become certain that our dear ones have no security, even in prison. In addition to the mental and psychological pressure they endure, their lives are also in danger. The authorities are all responsible for this. All those who remain silent. All those who hear our protests but remain indifferent. All those who pay no heed to our letters. All those who have deprived us from phone calls to obtain information on our love-ones’ well-being. Those who have limited our visits so as to place further pressure on the inmates. All those who are sitting and waiting to celebrate the demise of our loved ones.”
In recent days, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran published a list of eighteen Iranian prisoners who had perished while in custody between 2003 an 2011.
Kaleme has reported that at least four other detainees on hunger strike have been transferred to the prison infirmary following health complications. In addition, one of the inmates, Mahdi Eghbal, has also been hospitalised at Modarres hospital.
Following the rigged 2009 presidential elections, like many other senior reformist figures, Aminzadeh was imprisoned and paraded in televised show trials.