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Imprisoned Labor Activist’s Family Worried For His Life

Mahmoud Salehi a labor activist, who has been suffering from kidney and heart problems, is shackled in a hospital bed.

While imprisoned labor activist Mahmoud Salehi, who is suffering from serious kidney and heart problems, was first taken to the prison’s clinic and then to Imam Khomeini’s hospital in Saqqez, where he is still in intensive care, his family has voiced concerns over his health.

“The doctors have insisted Salehi should be transferred to a better-equipped hospital in Tehran, Urmia, or Tabriz to continue the treatment,” his family maintained. “Nevertheless, the prison officials have not yet responded to our demands for transferring him.”

Salehi’s son, Sarmand, had previously told Radio Farda that his father had already had two heart operations this year.

Moreover, his kidneys need dialysis every second week.

Salehi has explicitly declared on Facebook that he developed serious kidney problems in 2015 while being incarcerated. “While being behind bars at the Intelligence Ministry’s detention center in the city of Sanandaj, I lost my kidneys after being deprived of medical treatment, and I received my medicine with much delay,” he said.

On Wednesday November 9, Iranian judicial and intelligence officials rejected the family's request to transfer him to a better hospital in Tehran.

Radio Farda's labor issues reporter, Roozbeh Bolhari says that Iranian intelligence and some judiciary officials seem to have a special sensitivity toward Mr. Salehi.

Meanwhile, media photos show Salehi handcuffed and shackled to a hospital bed, while three security officers watch over him.

Pictures of Salehi and another prisoner of conscience, Mohammad Nazari, handcuffed and shackled on their hospital beds triggered a widespread wave of criticism on social media.

International human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) also condemned the move as unacceptable.

“It is regrettable that Iranian officials, instead of immediately releasing Mahmoud Salehi and Mohammad Nazari, have treated them as criminals, persecuting, humiliating, and tying them to their beds,” AI’s researcher for Iran-related cases, Raha Bahreini, told Radio Farda.

International law allows the use of tools such as fetters and handcuffs only for prisoners who are at risk of harming themselves or attacking others and trying to escape, AI reiterated.

Furthermore, using chains and shackles that humiliate prisoners’ dignity and cause pain is unlawful under any circumstances.

Referring to its investigation and research, AI announced that Iran’s judiciary and prison officials repeatedly violate international law and insist on shackling and handcuffing political prisoners whenever they are taken to hospital.

“As a rule, such behavior is aimed to humiliate, persecute, punish, and bring extra pain upon prisoners and, in many cases, has delayed or disturbed their medical treatment,” AI noted.

Meanwhile, the chairman of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has also protested the violations of labor prisoners’ rights.

In a letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ITUC General-Secretary Sharan Burrow voiced her deep concern over Salehi’s deteriorating health.

“Salehi should not be returned to prison and all charges against him must be canceled,” she wrote.

Salehi, 45, is a baker from the city of Saqqez in Kurdestan. He is one of the founders of the Coordinating Committee of Labor Organization and has been arrested several times for allegedly organizing strikes and launching labor rights movements.

“My father lost his kidneys during the last detention in 2015, but now we are really worried for his life,” his son, Sarmand, told the Iran Human Rights Monitor.