U.N. Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, Ms. Asma Jehangir expressed grave concern for the situation of detainees in Iran. She was specifically concerned about those prisoners who have been on a hunger strike to protest against their transfer to Rajai Shahir prison in the west of Tehran. This prison is a high-security prison which is reported to have the worst conditions for prisoners to live in.
Ms. Asma Jehangir has reported to said that she is deeply alarmed by the deteriorating medical condition of the prisoner and the fact that they are regularly tortured and ill-treated even when on hunger strike.
Approximately 15 prisoners were transferred without any prior notice or reason given to high-security prisons. None of them was allowed to take any of their medicines or personal belongings. The extent of cruelty is that they were deprived of hygiene products, medicines, adequate clothing or the food that they purchased with their own money.
Amnesty International described the conditions of prisons as “suffocating.” The prisoners are detained in cells where the windows are kept covered with metal sheets; there is no light or air, and even access to clean drinking water is denied. The prisoners are given insufficient food which lacks in nutrients, and there are no beds what so ever for prisoners to sleep on”. The report also concluded that the prisoners are denied any contact with their family members and are not even allowed any phone calls to home.
The U.N expert was also quick to point out a well-known international law that depriving prisoners of having family contact, medical care or restricting access to suitable lawyers is against humanitarian laws.
She further urged the Iranian government to take notice of the situation and look for a prompt solution to this extreme situation which is created by the hunger strike of the prisoners. She suggested that there should be a dialogue between the government officials and prisoners to understand their grievances and underlying human right violations, keeping the detainee’s autonomy. Both parties should resolve this situation as soon as possible and in good faith so that such a situation may not arise again.
Ms. Asma Jehangir is originally from Pakistan and was appointed as a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran by the United Nations in September 2016. Since then she has been actively pursuing different causes in Tehran and bringing human right issues to the attention of international world and media. She is recognized nationally and internationally and has won many awards and accolades. She has worked for women’s rights extensively back home and is doing the same for Iranian women. She is also working towards the protection of minorities and freedom of religion and belief for every individual.