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Transfer of a Kurdish political prisoner in a dire health condition to an unknown location

(7 May 2012) – The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) has received reports from former prisoners at Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj, Iran that a Kurdish political prisoner, Ramezan Ahmad Kamal, was abruptly transferred by Iranian authorities from Rajaee Shahr prison to an unknown location at 8 AM in the morning on Saturday, May 5. The authorities took Kamal’s personal items and did not specify where they were taking him.

Prior to his transfer, Kamal was kept in the medical clinic of Rajaee Shahr prison since April 10, 2012 on account of his poor health. According to sources close to Kamal, he urgently needed surgery at a hospital outside of the prison due to previous injuries from gunshot wounds and beatings during his incarceration that were worsened by a botched operation on his hand in the prison’s on-site medical clinic. However, despite the need for hospitalization, Kamal was not brought outside of the prison for treatment and instead was kept in the Rajaee Shahr prison medical clinic. He was reportedly simply given painkillers as treatment in the clinic.

Kamal, a Kurdish Syrian born in 1982 in the city of Kobani, Syria, was ambushed and seriously injured by IRGC forces, with eight gunshots to his arms and legs, in June 2008 nearby the city of Maku in West Azerbaijan province in Iran. A Kurdish Turk, Farhan Chalesh, was wounded alongside Kamal in the conflict.

According to information obtained by IHRDC from a source close to the two men, IRGC forces arrested the men, then dragged them on the ground for tens of meters and beat them. They were brought to a hospital in Orumiyeh and although they needed surgery and extensive hospitalization for their wounds, they were transferred to the detention center of IRGC in Orumiyeh after only five days on the orders of the security forces in the city.

At the IRGC detention center in Orumiyeh, the men were detained in separate solitary cells. IRGC intelligence agents interrogated them and subjected them to extreme mental pressure. Kamal spent 14 days in solitary confinement; during this time his wounds were left untreated which resulted in infection and maggot infestation of his injuries.

After 14 days in solitary confinement, Kamal and Chalesh were transferred to a prison in Maku. For four months they were not officially charged. They were then sent to the revolutionary court in Khoy to be tried before Judge Nouroozi. Kamal and Chalesh did not have legal representation at their trial and could not properly defend themselves in the proceedings on account of their lack of proficiency in the Farsi language. During their trial, which lasted only several minutes, they were sentenced to death for muharibih—or “warring with God”—for alleged membership in the PKK (Party Kargaran-i Kurdistan, or Kurdistan’s Workers Party). 

Kamal and Chalesh appealed the sentence—their sentences were referred to Iran’s Supreme Court and eventually reduced to ten years of imprisonment and exile to Ghazvin central prison and Zanjan central prison respectively. The sentences also forbid the prisoners from having any contact or visits from their family for the duration of their sentence.

After ten months total detention at Maku prison, Kamal was transferred to Ghazvin central prison and Chalesh was transferred to Zanjan central prison to serve out the duration of their sentences. Kamal was sent to the ward for dangerous prisoners and those convicted on drug related offenses in Ghazvin prison. Kamal was subjected to extreme psychological pressure in the ward and, as a result, began a hunger strike in protest on December 7, 2009. After roughly 40 days of his hunger strike, Kamal was sent to Imam Khomeini Hospital in Tehran on January 16, 2010.

After a week following his admission into hospital, Kamal was sent to Evin prison. There, he was reportedly brutally beaten with batons absent any clear reason, which resulted in injury to his ankle and his arm, which he could not subsequently move. Kamal was sent to ward 8 of Evin prison and after three months then sent to ward 350. Despite Kamal’s numerous requests to the clinic of the prison to be treated for his injuries, incurred both pre and post-Evin, the authorities did not take adequate action to give him proper medical care. Reportedly, the head of the medical clinic at the time informed Kamal that based on the order of Prosecutor-General of Tehran, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi, they were not allowed to treat Kamal because he had attacked Iran and was an “anti-revolutionary” force.

Following a year of incarceration at Evin prison, Kamal was then transferred to Rajaee Shahr prison in Karaj on April 14, 2011. Similar to his experience at Evin prison, Kamal and a number of other political prisoners were beaten minutes after their arrival at Rajaee Shahr prison and harassed by special dogs used by the guards in the prison. After receiving threats of execution, Kamal was instructed by the authorities at the prison to not cause any trouble at Rajaee Shahr or else he would die for any number of reasons, just like many other prisoners who die in Rajaee Shahr each year.

After 50 days of detention in a quarantine ward at Rajaee Shahr, which is normally reserved for some of the most dangerous prisoners that pose a risk to the prison population, Kamal was sent to ward 1 of the prison which houses dangerous offenders, HIV positive convicts and those convicted on drug-related offenses. 

In his time at Rajaee Shahr, Kamal was reportedly pepper sprayed and beaten by prison authorities for complaining about the lack of basic facilities and medical care in the prison. Eventually, authorities partially acquiesced to Kamal’s demands for medical care and operated on his injured arm, without up-to-standard surgical instruments and medical supplies, in the medical clinic on-site at the prison. Two days following the surgery, while Kamal was still in recovery from the operation, he was returned to ward 1. The operation was reportedly unsuccessful, and the condition of his arm worsened by the procedure—it rendered Kamal unable to move his entire hand from the wrist down. For this, he was being given painkillers in Rajaee Shahr prison’s medical clinic up until the time of his transfer last Saturday.