Sunday 15 January 2017

Saeed Shirzad “Before It’s Too Late,” Warns Lawyer

The lawyer of political prisoner Saeed Shirzad, who was hospitalized on January 12, 2017 after more than one month on hunger strike with his lips sewn shut, has warned that his client won’t give up until his demands are met.

“Saeed Shirzad is in a dangerous and worrying condition,” Amirsalar Davoodi told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, urging the Judiciary to address his client’s demands, including improved conditions for political prisoners at Rajaee Shahr Prison, “before it’s too late.”

Shirzad, a children’s rights activist, sewed his lips shut the day he began his hunger strike on December 8, 2017 and only drank water through a crack in the stitches with a straw. The stitches were removed after he was rushed to Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran in critical condition.

“He’s extremely weak, has lost a lot of weight, and his kidneys and alimentary canal have been damaged,” added Davoodi. “This situation requires the urgent attention of the officials. I’m warning that if they don’t pay attention, the country will face another political crisis in 10 to 15 days because Saeed isn’t giving up and will go all the way.”

“When he called me last night (January 12), his voice had completely changed,” continued Davoodi. “It was so weak and low that I thought he was calling from another world. He said he had made up his mind to go all the way to the end of his life. That really made me worried because I know Saeed and I’m sure he’ll persist until the end, and that’s very dangerous.

“Saeed wants the [Rajaee Shahr’s] prison warden to guarantee that the wrongful treatment of political prisoners at the prison will stop and that their rights will be protected,” he added. “In any case, the officials should go and talk to him and give assurances.”

Davoodi told the Campaign that as of January 12, the Judiciary had shown no sign that it was willing to discuss Shirzad’s demands.

Shirzad began the strike to protest what he described in a letter sent to judicial officials as “the quiet death of prisoners” (a reference to human rights violations suffered by prisoners at the hands of the staff of Rajaee Shahr Prison).

Most of the inmates of Rajaee Shahr Prison (also known as Gohardasht), located in Karaj (12 miles west of Tehran), have been convicted of violent crimes. However, dozens of political prisoners are being held in Ward 12 without basic sanitation and proper nutrition. Unlike the other inmates, the political prisoners have also been denied phone contact with their families.

A former political prisoner at Rajaee Shahr Prison described its inhumane conditions in depth to the Campaign in April 2016.

Shirzad, 28, is serving a five-year prison sentence issued by Judge Abolqasem Salavati of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court on September 12, 2015 for “assembly and collusion against national security” for helping the children of political prisoners pursue education. He has been waiting for a decision on his appeal request for more than a year.


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