Urgent Action: Ill-Treated Prisoner Risks Total Paralysis (Iran: UA 72.20)

May 6, 2020

Hossein Sepanta, a critically ill prisoner in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, Fars province, is suffering from a disorder in his spinal cord, causing him severe pain, numbness, loss of coordination, impaired movement, and bladder and bowel control issues. The authorities must heed medical advice that his health will be irreparably affected by continued imprisonment and ensure that he receives the care he needs outside of prison.

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Prosecutor General of Shiraz Heidar Asiabi
c/o Permanent Mission of Iran to the UN
Chemin du Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland
H.E. Majid Takht Ravanchi
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran
622 Third Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212 687-2020 I Fax: 212 867 7086
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Iran_UN
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Mr Asiabi,

Hossein Sepanta, a prisoner held in Adelabad prison in Shiraz, Fars province, is critically ill and requires constant specialized medical care and daily caregiving for a rare progressive disorder in his spinal cord (syringomyelia), which he cannot receive in prison. Due to this disorder, which has been exacerbated by lack of proper treatment since his imprisonment in June 2014, he is experiencing severe chronic pain, numbness, loss of coordination, impaired movement, swallowing difficulties, and bowel and bladder control issues. He frequently wakes up at night screaming in pain. This situation, and his inability to control bowel movements, have taken a toll on his and his cellmates’ mental health.

In June 2017, the Legal Medicine Organization of Iran, a state institute tasked with producing medical evidence for use in the legal system, stated that Hossein Sepanta “can only withstand prison if he is held in sanitary conditions; provided with walking aids, assistance and caregiving with daily activities involving standing on one’s feet; and regularly monitored by a specialist.” Despite this, he is being held in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, while his cellmates, rather than professional caregivers, have been left with the responsibility of moving him around and assisting him with washing and other personal care routines. Prosecution authorities have rejected his repeated requests to be transferred to a hospital outside prison despite the lack of specialized facilities in prison. He takes dozens of powerful painkillers every week, purchased at his family’s expense. Sometimes, his access to pain treatment is restricted or delayed as officials withhold his medication with no declared reason or claim. In 2019, he was reportedly visited in prison by medical specialists who warned that his spinal mobility had been reduced by 60%, and his continued imprisonment was placing him at risk of total paralysis.

Hossein Sepanta is serving a 10-year prison sentence imposed in connection with his alleged association with Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, a banned group which advocates the restoration of an Iranian monarchy. He alleges that his syringomyelia first occurred as a result of torture during an earlier period of detention in 2000, when he was held by the intelligence unit of Revolutionary Guards for 17 days. I urge you heed medical advice that his health will be irreparably affected by continued imprisonment and ensure that he receives the specialist care he needs outside prison. I also urge you to investigate his allegations of torture and protect him from torture and other ill-treatment.

Yours sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES