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Mockery of Justice: The Framing of Siamak Pourzand

9.1. UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Report

On May 9, 2003, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion regarding Siamak Pourzand’s case.[228] The government of Iran had responded to the Working Group’s February 2002 request for information regarding Mr. Pourzand’s arrest and detention, stating that he had been arrested following a complaint submitted by a secretary at the Tehran Cultural Center, Ms. Venus Farimehr.[229] The Iranian authorities confirmed that his arrest had been ordered by the General Court of Tehran on November 22, 2001, and that he had been brought before the court on November 24, 2001. The Iranian authorities claimed that he had been held in preventive detention in a facility controlled by the State Prison Organization, which was not the case. They also stated that he had been transferred to Evin prison on May 27, 2002, which was also untrue.

The Iranian authorities finally confirmed details of the charges brought against Mr. Pourzand, stating that he had been convicted of moral infractions and abuses according to article 637 and 639 of the Penal Code, spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran according to Article 500 of the Penal Code, spying against the Iranian State under Articles 501 and 505 of the Penal Code, and undermining State security under Article 512 of the Penal Code.[230]  The Iranian government added in its response that Mr. Pourzand had been found guilty of all charges and was condemned to eleven years’ imprisonment, a fine of one million rials, and to suffer eighty lashes. The Iranian government also claimed that the Tehran Court of Appeal confirmed this judgment on May 21, 2002, although contemporary reports in the government-controlled Iranian media place this event toward the end of June 2002.[231] There was no mention made of the possibility of further charges being brought against Mr. Pourzand.

The Working Group was not persuaded by the government of Iran’s submission, noting that “the reference to ‘propaganda’ against the Islamic Republic of Iran gives rise to serious doubts about the real nature and the motivation of the charges brought against [Siamak Pourzand].”[232] The Working Group concluded that “Mr. Pourzand was prosecuted against and convicted to a prison term because of his convictions and the expression of his opinion”[233] and requested the government of Iran take “the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Syamak [sic] Pourzand in order to bring it into conformity with the provisions and principles incorporated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a Party.”[234]

9.2. Failing Health

Siamak Pourzand was kept in Ward Three of Evin Prison until he suffered a severe heart attack in April 2004. The prison authorities wanted to send Mr. Pourzand to a government-run hospital, but he refused, declaring that he would not go to a hospital run by the IRGC or the government because he was afraid he “might be injected with lethal medicine or an air bubble in those facilities.”[235] The Iranian news agency Peik net reported that Mr. Pourzand had requested he be given the right to select his own doctor. According to the news agency, Mr. Pourzand had said:

“I would rather die in prison than in the Sepah’s Baqiyat’ullah hospital!”[236]

Despite Mr. Pourzand’s critical condition, his request to consult a doctor of his own choosing was rejected. When his sister paid him a visit in Evin on April 19, 2004, she found he was unable to walk unaided into the visiting room.[237]  

Later that night Siamak Pourzand was hospitalized in the critical care unit of Sa’databad Hospital. The guards accompanying him refused to let reporters speak to him.[238] The Islamic Human Rights Commission of Iran was also refused access to him.[239] Only his sister was allowed to visit him. She later told Peyk-e Iran that during her visit “the guards kept monitoring our conversation.”[240] Mr. Pourzand was chained to the hospital bed at both the wrists and ankles.[241]

Peyk-e Iran also recounted that doctors were not hopeful for Mr. Pourzand’s recovery as they had discovered that he was suffering from a number of additional ailments, including bladder problems.[242] Reporters Without Borders issued a press release stating that the organization was “revolted” by Mr. Pourzand’s treatment and promising to hold the Iranian authorities responsible for any further deterioration in his condition.[243]

On April 20, 2004, Judge Zafarqandi ordered the hospital authorities not to allow anyone to visit Mr. Pourzand at the hospital,[244] although he was allowed to speak to his wife and daughter on the telephone. In a conversation on April 22, Mr. Pourzand told them that if he didn’t receive surgery on his spine immediately there was a real chance that he would be paralyzed for the rest of his life.[245]

The authorities finally relented, and Siamak Pourzand was temporarily discharged from Evin prison to receive treatment at a better equipped facility.[246] After multiple surgeries, he was sent home to recuperate, where he still remains at the time of writing. However, Mr. Pourzand has not completed his sentence and continues to live under the constant threat of being returned to Evin to serve out his term. Mr. Pourzand remains in poor health. His wife and daughters cannot return to Iran to care for him for fear of arrest, and he has been denied permission to travel abroad for further medical treatment. As he lost both of his former jobs after his arrest, he has no source of income to sustain himself.

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Tagged as:

Secret Prisons, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Due Process, Right to an Attorney, Equality Before the Law, Discrimination