Nasser Zarafchan, lawyer (2)

Re: Nasser Zarafchan, lawyer

To: His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed Ali Khamenei

From: Gail Davidson

Date: 2005-06-21

LRWC continues to monitor the conditions and status of Mr. Nasser Zarafchan with increasing alarm. Since his arrest, trial and sentencing, LRWC has respectfully sought information from representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran and has received no response.

Despite increasing international efforts and attention, Mr. Zarafchan continues to be denied critical medical treatment for a chronic and worsening kidney condition. He has also been transferred within Evin Prison to a section that he shares with violent criminals. Most troubling is the denial and interruption of family visits since early April 2005. The international community no longer has strong independent reports as to his condition. The obvious conclusion is that his deteriorating health and the conditions of his incarceration are being hidden.

Despite our formal request, we have received no reply to our letter of May 20, 2005. We have enclosed a copy of that letter for your review. Unfortunately matters have worsened since our letter of May 20, 2005, which is over the same period of time that we asked for a response and respectfully expected from your office.

Nasser Zarafchan began a hunger strike at the end of April to protest the denial of necessary medical treatment and his detention in a cell with prisoners convicted of violent crimes. Having been given commitments from prison staff that he would receive the care he needs, Mr. Zarafchan discontinued his hunger strike.

On June 6, 2005, Nasser Zarafchan announced that he was resuming his hunger strike due to refusal to grant him leave to receive medical treatment outside prison, despite previous commitments made after his first hunger strike, and clear instruction from medics that this was required. In a statement issued from prison he said:

The reports of medical examinations, tests and various x-rays by the Prison Health Section and its trusted physicians have made everything clear ¡­ I have no other means at my disposal to attain my rights but my life. I shall begin an unlimited hunger strike on June 7, 2005, and go on with this death marathon to the end.

According to his wife and his lawyer, Nasser Zarafchan is very weak, his blood pressure is low, and he has lost 14 kilograms in weight since he began the hunger strike. When his lawyer attempted to visit on June 15, he was turned away. In a phone call with his wife, Nasser Zarafchan said that he had been vomiting.

Family members and supporters of Nasser Zarafchan have been conducting a ¡°sit in¡± protest outside Evin Prison in solidarity with him. On June 9, 2005, six of those participating, including Nasser Zarafchan¡¯s wife, were arrested by security forces. On June 15, 2005, the protestors were reportedly beaten by plain clothed individuals, who may be members of the security forces, and two individuals were hospitalized as a result of injuries sustained. Many are believed to have been arrested. Several political prisoners in Evin Prison are said to have begun a hunger strike in solidarity with him.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is under great international scrutiny with your recent presidential elections. The true test of a country¡¯s democratic ideals is whether that country adheres to human rights. Human rights demand that the government understands that the Rule of Law is paramount and that government must serve the individual and the community. Also, the true test of a country¡¯s ability to manage great power rests in the wisdom of their democracy. Democracy is guarded by a commitment to the Rule of Law and human rights.

Nasser Zarafchan¡¯s treatment doe not even comply with your own laws. Article 291 of the Code of Criminal Procedures allows for Mr. Zarafchan to receive medical treatment outside of prison. His worsening health conditions demand that he receives the medical treatment contemplated by your own laws. Principle 8 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules of Treatment of Prisoners states that the different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of ¡­ the legal reason for the detention ¡­. It is clear that political prisoners, such as Mr. Zarafchan, should not be housed with people convicted of violent crimes. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory to these UN Principles.

The continuing mistreatment of Nasser Zarafchan by officials within the Islamic Republic of Iran will create a martyr.

Lawyers¡¯ Rights Watch of Canada joins with Mr. Zarafchan¡¯s family and other international groups to demand that Mr. Zarafchan receive immediate and full medical treatment for his illness. Additionally, we also demand that he be appropriately housed and protected while serving the term of his sentence.

We demand that you write to LRWC by mail, e-mail or fax to advise of your response and of the actions taken by your government to ensure that Mr. Zarafchan receives the appropriate medical treatment and care within Evin Prison. We will be writing to you again if we do not hear from you within two weeks of the date of this letter.