Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran Going Blind

TORONTO, Canada-RUDAW—A female Kurdish prisoner in Iran who has reportedly been tortured and is now going blind is being denied proper healthcare, activists say.

Zeinab Jalalian’s eyesight has been deteriorating over the past several months and her physical and psychological health is deteriorating, human rights activists say. Jalalian, 32, is serving a life sentence in Kermanshah prison for enmity against God for belonging to the armed rebel Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), a charge she denies.


Prisoners have access to healthcare under Iranian law, but activists say prison officials are refusing to let her see an eye specialist outside of the prison. She has suffered torture, serious intestinal issues and eye problems since being imprisoned, “possibly as a result of blows to her head” Amnesty International reported.

Iranian and international human rights groups are calling for Jalalian to receive immediate medical treatment and for a new trial to be held. Amnesty reported that her trial in 2009 lasted only a few minutes and that she did not have a lawyer.

Jalalian was originally given the death penalty, but her sentence was reduced to life imprisonment in 2011. She has frequently gone on hunger strikes and has not been allowed family visits for over a year, according to Amnesty International.

Jalalian is from Maku, a town in the West Azerbaijan province of Iran. Human rights activists including the World Organization Against Torture have called for Jalalian’s release, noting that she did not have the right to cross-examine witnesses or have witnesses testify on her behalf.

US-based Kurdish activist Soraya Falah has called on Nobel Peace Prize winner and prominent Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi to advocate on Jalalian’s behalf.

Though vaguely worded, enmity against God, is no small crime in Iran. Kurdish prisoners including Farzad Kamangar, 32, Ehsan Fattahian, 28, and Fasih Yasmani, 28, were among those hanged for the crime, which human rights activists say is often politically motivated.

Other Kurdish political prisoners are living under dire conditions in Iranian prisons including Muhammad Sediq Kaboudvand, a Kurdish journalist who was convicted in 2007 of breaking numerous laws including “acting against national security” and “widespread propagation against the system.” He is serving a 10-year sentence.


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