CHRI – The life of veteran journalist and political activist Keyvan Samimi is in danger as he continues to be unlawfully kept behind bars in Tehran’s Evin Prison despite state officials’ recommendations that he be released to receive treatment for serious health problems.
“We’re seeing a pattern of political prisoners being intentionally led to their deaths in Iran’s prisons,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
“This is just another way the Iranian authorities are trying to silence and crush dissent in Iran—either by imprisonment, execution or medical neglect,” Ghaemi added.
CHRI is extremely concerned for the safety of Samimi and for all political prisoners, who are consistently singled out for harsh treatment and medical neglect in Iran’s prisons, especially given that two political prisoners, the poet Baktash Abtin and Kian Adelpour, died just last week.
CHRI calls for their immediate release and urges the UN and governments worldwide to forcefully condemn Iran’s continued medical neglect of political prisoners and the jailing of individuals for voicing dissent.
“The judiciary has cruelly and unlawfully condemned these courageous individuals to imprisonment for voicing dissent in crowded prisons with inhumane living conditions during a pandemic,” said Ghaemi. “Now we’re seeing more of them die after they unsurprisingly fall ill and are denied proper medical treatment.”
Samimi Denied Medical Treatment, Due to be Exiled to Worse Prison
Instead of being released, Samimi, 73, is due to be banished to a prison with fewer facilities, CHRI has learned. Iranian courts have a documented history of exiling prisoners to under-resourced and unsafe prisons as an additional form of punishment.
Samimi, a passionate freedom of speech and thought advocate, is the editor-in-chief of Iran-e Farda (Tomorrow’s Iran) current affairs magazine, editor-in-chief of the banned daily paper Nameh (Letter) and board member of the Society in Defense of Press Freedom.
“Given Samimi’s advanced age and medical history, the medical examiner and the head of the prison are in agreement that his prison conviction should be changed,” a source with detailed knowledge of the case told CHRI on January 11, 2022.
“But Amin Vaziri, the deputy prosecutor and presiding judicial official in charge of political prisoners, is insisting that Samimi be transferred to another prison,” said the source who requested anonymity to protect themselves from being punished by intelligence officials for speaking publicly about the case.
According to Article 502 of Iran’s Code of Criminal Procedure, a prisoner’s sentence can be suspended if incarceration could make his or her physical or mental illness worse.
“Amin Vaziri is not only insisting that Samimi should endure continued punishment, he’s also endangering his health because moving him to another prison will definitely make him sicker,” the source told CHRI.
Samimi was arrested at a Labor Day rally in Tehran in 2019 and sentenced to three years in prison for “assembly and collusion against the state.” He began serving his sentence in December 2020.
“I will go to prison and when I get out, I will continue to live according to my ideas and beliefs,” Samimi told CHRI in August 2020.
“I’m not looking to build a political platform for myself. I’m more of an idealist and my actions are very transparent. I don’t believe in working in secret and that’s why I wrote about social movements on my Telegram channel. I know the authorities are sensitive about it. They call me a saboteur who incites riots, even though I believe in non-violence.”
Learn more about Keyvan Samimi here.