Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Take Care of Ahmad Batebi, His Life is in Danger

Rooz Online:
Rooz Online asked Dr. Hesam Firuzi, the physician of Ahmad Batebi (the imprisoned Iranian student activist behind bars since 1998) to describe the health of Batebi. The following is his piece, which highlights the serious health condition he is in, which threatens his life. Read the excerpt.

Ahmad Batebi was arrested along with other students dormitories. during a protest at Tehran UniversityIn 1999 he was tried and sentenced to prison till 2005 on charges of undermining national security. After spending 17 months in solitary confinement in the anti-Sabotage Committee prison, he transferred to Evin prison. Tried in a partial court, he was initially sentenced to death, and then to 15 years in prison. Earlier this year prison authorities gave him a 5-day leave to attend a wedding, after which he returned to prison. In March this year, he was given leave on the occasion of the New Iranian year, along with many other prisoners as has been customary for many years. Because of his very poor physical and mental health, he could not return to prison at the end of the leave. Before his re-arrest and return to Evin, Batebi spent most of his time outside prison under medical care, undergoing physical therapy every day and taking medicine. In prison Batebi repeatedly suffered from kidney and urinary track infections and because of lack of proper medical treatment, these have now taken a chronic form. Because of poor food and nervous issues, he also suffers from ulcers. READ MORE

During Batebi’s first prison term when he was subjected to torture and other inhuman pressures, he also developed other injuries and disorders. He has lost a number of his teeth, he has ear problems and his eye sight has been impaired. The pain and torture that Batebi went through which he partly described in a letter to Judiciary authorities in which he retold how he was tied to a water pipe of the building and forced under sewage water until he could not breath any longer, while being beaten with military boots, tells only part of the story. The MRI image that I have obtained from his spine, clearly shows his damaged vertebrae numbers 4 and 5. In response to how they could have happened, Batebi said, ‘One day as he was standing facing a wall with my hands pressing against the wall, I looked from under my blinds. A moment later a guard kicked me in the back with all his force. My legs went numb, and the pain has never since left me.’ Batebi is a very resilient person, but he cannot sit or get up without severe pain. He cannot bend at all. Still, his smile never left his lips. Everybody knows that the court where he was tried was a partial one so he never received a fair trial. His case must be completely reviewed because the punishment he has been awarded has absolutely no proportion with what he did. What is important now is for him to be given permission to leave prison so he can be medically treated for his pains and ills. Because of the torture and suffering he has been subjected to, Batebi suffers from spinal cord injuries, kidney problems, nervous system problems, and metabolism disorders for which he was under medical treatment by me before his re-arrest recently. If the medication that he needs to take is cut off from him, it will cause his body irreparable damage.

If his hunger strike continues and he is not released from prison for medical treatment, his survival will be in danger. Any person who is willing to sacrifice his own life for his right and those of his co-nationals, is a commendable and respectable individual. Let’s all request that he break his hunger strike so he does not inflict further damage to his body. The future of Iran needs individuals like him. In view of Batebi’s critical medical condition, article 291 of Iran’s code of criminal procedures allows a court to allow a prisoner to receive medical treatment outside the prison. So he should be given medical leave from prison. Today, he is not allowed even to have visits from his family members or to have an attorney represent him. It should be noted that even before his recent re-arrest, he suffered from very poor health. He needs medication for his pains and conditions, in addition to physical therapy. If these are denied to him, his legs will most likely be paralyzed. Despite all this, he has chosen to go on a hungers strike to protest he re-arrest.

Finally I would like to say that even during a war, medical facilities are immune and out of reach. The health of patients is the number one priority and goal at these centers. It is a well recognized principle all over the world that these heavens are immune from political, security, military pressures, and nobody has a right to pressure those involved in the healing profession to do anything. Just as the regime defends the rights of other individuals in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan and constantly condemns the United States for the inhuman events that take place in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, it is expected that it would its own citizens in the same light, because, as the saying goes, charity begins at home.”