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Imprisoned woman human rights defender Narges Mohammadi tested for COVID-19

Status: 
Imprisoned / Health at Risk
About the situation

On 26 July 2020, Narges Mohammadi was permitted to call her family in France from Zanjan prison for the first time in 11 months.

On 15 July 2020, a misleading video of Narges Mohammadi being examined by a doctor in Zanjan prison was shown by the state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), on the “20:30 News” programme. The video, which was taken without the human rights defender’s consent, is an attempt to dispel criticism of the prison authorities’ negligence regarding her health.

On 8 July 2020, Narges Mohammadi was tested for COVID-19, however the results of the test are being withheld by the prison authorities. The woman rights defender, imprisoned in Zanjan prison, has been displaying symptoms of the virus since late June. She is currently in quarantine with 11 other prisoners who are also displaying symptoms and were tested.

About Narges Mohammadi

Narges MohammadiNarges Mohammadi is a woman human rights activist and Deputy Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC). She has campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, and was awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish government for her human rights work in 2011. The human rights defender is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence which was issued by the 36 Branch of Tehran Court of Appeals on 28 September 2016.

28 July 2020
Narges Mohammadi allowed first call with family in 11 months

On 26 July 2020, Narges Mohammadi was permitted to call her family in France from Zanjan prison for the first time in 11 months.

During this phone call, which lasted for 15-20 minutes, the defender was able to speak to her son. However, as the family were not given prior warning about the call, Narges Mohammadi was unable to speak to her daughter who was not with the family at the time.

The defender's family are hopeful that the calls become a more regular occurrence.

24 July 2020
Narges Mohammadi denounces misleading video

On 15 July 2020, a misleading video of Narges Mohammadi being examined by a doctor in Zanjan prison was shown by the state broadcaster Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), on the “20:30 News” programme. The video, which was taken without the human rights defender’s consent, is an attempt to dispel criticism of the prison authorities’ negligence regarding her health.

The human rights defender, who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and was tested on 8 July, was brought to the prison’s doctor on 14 July. The defender was unable to walk properly and was coughing heavily, and so was prescribed medication and told she was to see the doctor again the following day. On 15 July, Narges Mohammadi told the prison doctor that she had felt an improvement in her condition as a result of the medication. This interaction was captured on camera, without her knowledge or consent, and was shown on the “20:30 News” programme that evening to suggest that the defender was in good health and had received a medical check-up. Narges Mohammadi denounced the video clip, saying that it was in violation of her privacy rights as she was unaware and uninformed of the video being taken of her.

A group of UN human rights experts expressed their serious concerns regarding Narges Mohammadi and others who have contracted COVID-19 in Zanjan prison. In a statement released on 22 July, the experts reiterated their concern for Narges Mohammadi, who suffers from underlying health conditions, and urged the authorities in Iran to take effective action, saying “For those with underlying health conditions, such as Ms. Mohammadi, it may have life-or-death consequences. The Iranian authorities must act now before it is too late”.

On 22 July, the defender stated that she is feeling somewhat better, however she is still weak and is unable to walk in a full circle around the yard in Zanjan prison. Although the defender was tested for COVID-19 on 8 July, the result of her test is being withheld by the prison authorities. The defender is confident that she contracted the virus, as she has been displaying many of the symptoms since 29 June.

14 July 2020
Imprisoned woman human rights defender Narges Mohammadi tested for COVID-19

On 8 July 2020, Narges Mohammadi was tested for COVID-19, however the results of the test are being withheld by the prison authorities. The woman rights defender, imprisoned in Zanjan prison, has been displaying symptoms of the virus since late June. She is currently in quarantine with 11 other prisoners who are also displaying symptoms and were tested.

Narges Mohammadi is a woman human rights activist and Deputy Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC). She has campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, and was awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish government for her human rights work in 2011. The human rights defender is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence which was issued by the 36 Branch of Tehran Court of Appeals on 28 September 2016.

On 13 July, the woman human rights defender published an open letter from prison, in which she described the conditions in Zanjan prison, including that she and 11 other prisoners who have been tested for COVID-19 are being quarantined together. She detailed in the letter that she has not received any medical attention since testing positive for the virus, nor has she received any medical attention in the last six months, despite suffering from pulmonary embolism among other medical conditions. She has been forbidden to purchase special nutrients prescribed for her digestive issues by the doctor.

Narges Mohammadi’s symptoms are particularly concerning, given her pre-existing lung condition, among other conditions, that places her at risk of severe illness if she is not is not provided with the necessary medical attention. Her lung condition, pulmonary embolism, causes difficulty breathing, for which she requires an inhaler and anticoagulant medications. The defender is at further risk due to medical negligence by Zanjan prison authorities, who have failed to provide her with the necessary medication, medical attention and prescribed nutrients she requires for her pre-existing conditions for the past six months, since she was exiled to the prison. As a result, her prescriptions have not been renewed and she is not receiving essential medication, despite her doctor’s advice for regular check-ups with specialists.

Narges Mohammadi has been denied access to books, newspapers, and phone calls, and as a result has not been able to speak to her children for a year. The security agent who is supervising Narges Mohammadi’s case has told her more than once that she “won’t leave the prison alive”.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned by the failure of prison authorities in Zanjan prison to respond efficiently and effectively to Narges Mohammadi’s serious symptoms of COVID-19. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Iran to immediately provide Narges Mohammadi with the necessary medical attention she requires and release her from prison, and quash the conviction against her

10 July 2020
Concern for the health of Narges Mohammadi after displaying symptoms of COVID-19

Woman human rights defender Narges Mohammadi, who is currently serving a 16 year sentence in Zanjan prison, is displaying symptoms of COVID-19, according to her husband Taghi Rahmani. The defender’s health condition places her in a high risk category regarding COVID-19, which, combined with the overcrowding in the prison, is cause for concern.

Narges Mohammadi is Deputy Director of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC). She was elected as President of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, a broad coalition against war and for the promotion of human rights. She has campaigned for the abolition of the death penalty in Iran, and was awarded the Per Anger Prize by the Swedish government for her human rights work in 2011.

On 7 July 2020, Taghi Rahmani reported that his wife had developed COVID-19 symptoms, including extreme fatigue, pain and losing her sense of smell, along with six other prisoners in Zanjan prison. On 5 July, she had been granted permission to see a doctor after 15 suspected cases of COVID-19 were reported in the prison. Although some prisoners were granted leave with a curfew due to the precarious situation in the prison, Narges Mohammadi was informed she will be tested for COVID-19, and has been returned to prison in the meantime, despite displaying symptoms. She also has not received any medication, which is critical given her health condition which already places her at risk.

The human rights defender is currently serving a 16 year prison sentence which was issued by the 36 Branch of Tehran Court of Appeals on 28 September 2016. The verdict comprises of a 10 year prison sentence for “membership in the Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty” group (also known as LEGAM). Founded by Narges Mohammadi, LEGAM campaigns against the use of the death penalty in Iran. In addition to her 10 year sentence, she received five years for alleged “collusion and assembly against national security” and one year for “spreading propaganda against the system.”

After being physically assaulted and exiled to Zanjan prison in December 2019, the defender’s liberties were even further restricted and she was denied access to books, newspapers, and phone calls. The security agent who is supervising Narges Mohammadi’s case has told her more than once that she “won’t leave the prison alive”. She has also been denied permission to see a specialist regarding her health condition, whilst the medical support in Zanjan prison is inadequate.

There have been reports of positive cases of COVID-19 in prisons throughout Iran and prisoners are at increased risk of infection due to overcrowding and the failure by prison authorities to implement sufficient prevention and protection measures.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned by the failure of prison authorities in Zanjan prison to respond efficiently and effectively to the display of COVID-19 symptoms by Narges Mohammadi and other prisoners. It is particularly concerned, given the vulnerable health condition of the defender and the living conditions within the prison. Front Line Defenders believes that the treatment of Narges Mohammadi in Zanjan prison, including the threats made against her and the curtailing of her personal liberties and denying her access to healthcare and necessary medication, is solely due to her peaceful and legitimate work in defense of human rights in Iran.