By Firooze Ramezanzadeh
According to recent reports from Evin prison’s Ward 350, authorities in the prison’s medical clinic are engaging in abusive practices against inmates, including the improper administration of mind-altering medication.
The clinic has reportedly stopped administering medications to some prisoners with prescribed medical needs, while other prisoners are given large doses of drugs that can result in serious mental side effects.
One such case involves Iranian blogger Vahid Asghari, who along with Iranian-Canadian Saeed Malekpour was recently sentenced to death for the management of ‘anti-Islamic’ websites.
Evin prison authorities committed 24 year old Asghari to Aminabad psychiatric hospital in Tehran for two weeks. During that time, Asghari was handcuffed and his feet were shackled.
According to former cellmates, Asghari recounted that in Aminabad, he was handcuffed, shackled, and insulted when allowed to use the toilet and bathroom facilities. Further, toilet trips were taken in a group.
When he was released from Aminabad, Asghari was transferred back to Evin prison’s Ward 350 in handcuffs and shackles. The continuous nature of these physical restraints has reportedly had a deleterious effect on Asghari’s mental health.
The doctors in Evin prison’s clinic have reportedly prescribed numerous medications to Asghari that he must take every night before bed. The medication has had a further negative effect on his mental health. Now, as a direct result of his treatment by prison authorities, Asghari, a university student who was in sound health at the start of his imprisonment, suffers from mental illness that needs special and urgent medical care.
According to Asghari’s former cellmates, the severe mental and physical torture Asghari was subjected to means he cannot go back to ‘normal’ life even if he is released.
Hossein Asghari, another political prisoner in Evin prison’s Ward 350, has been given heavy doses of tranquilizers during his incarceration at Evin prison. The medication has severely compromised his mental health. He is now addicted to the medication and faces severe health problems on account of taking drugs not authorized by a medical doctor.
Asghari was arrested on charges of espionage in 2006 and sentenced to seven years and three months of ‘Tazir’ imprisonment (for crimes that do not have a specific codified duration of imprisonment in law). Despite having already served five years of his sentence and suffering from severe mental and physical health problems, Asghari has never been granted conditional release. In addition to the mental health problems he suffers from, Asghari suffers from teeth and gum infections for which he has not been given adequate medical treatment.