At least two Iranian political prisoners in Evin Prison have been denied medical care, even though they are displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including fever, headache, lethargy, the loss of taste and smell.
Mohammad Banazadeh Amirkhizi, 65, has several serious medical conditions, including heart failure, that put him at a higher risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19. While Payam Shakiba suffers from migraines that have made his symptoms more severe.
There have been several reports that prisoners at Evin Prison are at greater risk of coronavirus because of the unhygienic and overcrowded conditions that they are forced to endure.
For instance, prisoners are not given cleaning products for either themselves or their surroundings, which would kill the virus. This means no soap, no bleach, no wipes. They’re also not provided with masks or gloves, which are essential to slow the spread.
These things are sold at a horrendous mark-up at the prison store, but many cannot afford these and are not allowed to receive them in packages from their families outside.
Furthermore, as we alluded to earlier, political prisoners are denied adequate medical treatment as a matter of course, which means that they are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus; both contracting it and developing complications as a result.
Banazadeh, a veteran political activist, was initially arrested by the Intelligence Ministry in November 2009 for supporting the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI) and was released in November 2014.
He was rearrested in February 2016 and sentenced to 11 years in Evin Prison and two years in exile in Nikshahr, Sistan and Baluchistan Province, by Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh at Tehran Revolutionary Court in November 2017. This was upheld in the appeals court in July 2018.
Shakiba was arrested in July 2008, for revealing the sexual misconduct of a senior administrator at Zanjan University, where he was studying. He was sentenced in March 2010 to one year in prison for “causing public anxiety” and “instigating illegal gatherings against national security”, as well as being barred from returning to university for two semesters. This was reduced to six months in prison on appeal, which he served November 2010-March 2011.
He was rearrested in 2016 and sentenced to six years in prison in November 2017.
On August 22, Banazadeh Amirkhizi, Shakiba, and another political prisoner Majid Assadi were all transferred from Rajai Shahr Prison to Ward 209 of Evin Prison, which is run by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry, for interrogation over a new case opened against them.
Amirkhizi, Shakiba, and Assadi were summoned to the Evin prosecutor’s office in July and told that new charges for “propaganda activities against the establishment” had been brought against them.