Riaz Sobhani, a 67-year-old Baha’i citizen imprisoned since June 2011 for financially assisting the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), is in dire physical and psychological conditions, especially considering his age, his son told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. The Baha’i prisoner was hospitalized in May 2012 for an acute heart condition.
“The Medical Examiner’s Office had prescribed two months of medical furlough for him for medical care and tests, but the officials only agreed to a total of 1.5 months of leave for my father, which was granted one week at a time after my family begged them to extend his leave each time. Fortunately, my father was able to stay home for 1.5 months and completed his tests during this time. He went on furlough last March and returned to prison in early April. But my family has observed during visits with him that his psychological conditions are unsuitable and he has become physically weaker. At age 67, it is very hard for him to return to prison and to endure the harsh prison conditions,” Naim Sobhani told the Campaign about his father’s situation.
“After one of his arteries was blocked last year, my father went to the hospital last July and received surgery, but he was transferred back to prison after two days and was unable to receive medical care. His condition deteriorated daily until the Medical Examiner prescribed two months of medical furlough for him,” Naim Sobhani added.
Describing the unhygienic conditions of Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj, Riaz Sobhani’s son told the Campaign, “In each cell, which is built for two prisoners, they hold four to five prisoners. In each of these cells, apparently, there is only one metal bed, and this bed is divided among the prisoners, or the person who is the oldest or who is sick sleeps on it. Each prisoner only has one blanket, and this makes the conditions very difficult for the prisoners in wintertime. The toilets and showers in the prison are filthy and unhygienic. The prison food lacks any quality, and there is no supervision, because they don’t consider prisoners human beings, to do something about their conditions. Naturally this is very difficult for a prisoner who is 67.”
Riaz Sobhani was a key member of the Baha’i Assembly in Tehran prior to its closure in 2008, when seven Baha’i community leaders were arrested and later sentenced to 10 years in prison each. “In June it will be two years since my father was imprisoned. We only hope that considering he will have already served half of his sentence, that he is released. We only hope that his lawyers and the authorities can make this happen, because prison is really very hard for a sick old man and each day of his continued stay in prison makes him weaker. I hope the judicial authorities hear our voices and release him,” Sobhani told the Campaign.
Sobhani was tried on October 1, 2011, at Branch 28 of Tehran Revolutionary Court under Judge Moghisseh, on charges of “providing financial assistance to the Bha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE),” and was sentenced to four years in prison. His sentence was upheld at the appeals level. Riaz Sobhani’s first lawyer, Abdolfattah Soltani, is currently in prison himself.
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