Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe announces hunger strike over 'concerns for health and survival' in Iranian prison
PUBLISHED: 12:11 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:23 03 January 2019
Jailed West Hampstead woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe will go on hunger strike later this month over "concerns for her health and survival", she has announced.
In a statement made from Iran’s Evin prison jointly with fellow political prisoner Nargess Mohamadi, Nazanin, 40, said she would be refusing food between January 14 and January 16 in protest at the Iranian prison authorities’ refusal to allow them access to medical treatment.
According to her husband Richard, Nazanin is currently having medical treatment blocked for lumps in her breasts and for neck pain and numbness in her arms and legs.
She has also been blocked from seeing an outside psychiatrist.
Richard explained access to treatment had been approved by a prison doctor, only to be blocked by the head of the prison’s clinic.
Nazanin and Nargess will go on a hunger strike for three days, and that if Iran doesn’t fulfil their requests, “further action will be taken”.
The letter was published by the Tehran-based Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) which is run by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
According to the DHRC, the women’s letter lays out that access to medical treatement is a “fundamental right”. They continue: “We have been deprived of it despite repeated requests and appeals to the relevant authorities.
“At our last attempt, we visited the clinic at the Evin Prison and were examined by a prison doctor who is a person trusted and employed by the Prison Organisation, and who in writing referred us for emergency appointments to outside clinics.
“However, other officials have prevented this from happening for unknown reasons.”
This is not the first time Nazanin has been denied urgent medical treatment, and she has complained over neck and back pain, thought to be a neurological symptom, throughout her incarceration.
Ms Mohamadi was Ms Ebadi’s deputy at the DHRC when she was herself was arrested on charges of working against the Iranian regime. She has been repeatedly jailed over national security concerns for almost a decade.
Both women made clear in their letter that the Iranian authorities “are to be held responsible for the potential consequences”.
Nazanin has now been in jail for more than 1000 days.
A translation of the letter, written by Nazanin and Nargess, and published by the DHRC:
The right to have access to a physician, medicine and treatment, is a fundamental right contained in national and international declarations and regulations. Unfortunately, we have been deprived of it despite repeated requests and appeals to the relevant authorities.
At our last attempt, we visited the clinic at the Evin Prison and were examined by a prison doctor who is a person trusted and employed by the Prison Organisation, and who in writing referred us for emergency appointments to outside clinics.
However, other officials have prevented this from happening for unknown reasons. This is despite the fact that we had been sent to these clinics for treatment previously during an earlier period of our detention. Unfortunately, now not only are medical visits and outside emergency treatment not being allowed, but also our continuous follow-up from inside the prison, the request to meet with the special lawyer of the prisoners, and the continuous follow-up of our lawyers from outside, have all not resulted in any progress. We are severely disturbed and concerned by this prevention of specialist care approved by the prison doctor and strongly protest against it.
There is a serious question to ask: Does this not risk endangering lives to abruptly stop the medication that has been prescribed for treatment by physicians for a long period of time, or to prevent transferring us for necessary specialist treatment? Is such an attitude consistent with human laws and practices?
Therefore, in protest to this illegal, inhuman and unlawful behaviour, and to express our concerns for our health and survival at this denial of specialist treatment, despite taking daily medicines, we will go on hunger strike from 14.01.2019 to 16.01.2019.
We are urging for an immediate action to be taken.
We announce that in the event of the authorities failure to address these concerns and them further endangering our health, we will take further actions. The authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are to be held responsible for the potential consequences.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Nargess Mohammadi