Dear Mr Raisi,
Ailing human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, unjustly jailed since May 2015, has been suffering from suspected COVID-19 symptoms, including coughs, shortness of breath, muscle and joint pain and loss of smell since 29 June. Despite her worsening condition, the authorities continue to deny her health care, and refuse to inform her of the results of a test taken on 8 July. This is putting her health and life at risk, particularly considering her pre-existing lung disease and weakened immune system following surgeries in 2018 and 2019.
Since her violent and punitive transfer from Tehran’s Evin prison to Zanjan’s prison on 24 December 2019, Narges Mohammadi has been deliberately denied health care, which may amount to torture or other ill-treatment. The prison and prosecution authorities have refused to transfer her for specialized care outside prison. As a result, her prescriptions for medication to prevent the formation of blood clots in her lungs have not been renewed since her removal from Evin prison. She is held with women convicted of serious violent crimes, and has reportedly received death threats from another prisoner. The authorities have not allowed her to call her children for nearly a year and are denying her access to reading materials, clothes and vitamins brought by her family.
On 22 February 2020, prosecution and intelligence officials visited Narges Mohammadi in Zanjan’s prison, and informed her that she is facing several national security-related charges in connection to her human rights activism inside prison. The activities cited as “evidence” included issuing statements condemning the death penalty, prolonged solitary confinement, and other forms of torture or ill-treatment, the killings of protesters in November 2019, and calling for a referendum on the country’s political system. The authorities also informed her that they have opened a second criminal case against her for “causing disruption in prison” and “libel against the head of Evin prison”. The former charge is for holding a sit-in with other prisoners in Evin prison between 21 and 24 December 2019 to protest the killings of protesters in November 2019. The latter charge is in relation to a complaint that she filed in December 2019 against the head of Evin prison, alleging that, he and several other prison officials subjected her to verbal abuses, death threats, and beatings during her transfer to Zanjan prison, resulting in bruises on her body and injuries from shattered glass when her hand hit a glass door.
I urge you to release Narges Mohammadi immediately and unconditionally, as she is held solely for her peaceful human rights work. Pending her release, I urge to immediately provide her with the health care she needs outside prison, end her punitive and unsafe placement in Zanjan prison, and return her to her usual place of detention in Evin prison. While imprisoned, please ensure that she is granted access to her family, including telephone calls with her children, and protected from torture and other ill-treatment. Her allegations of torture and other ill-treatment must be promptly investigated by an independent and impartial body.