Elderly prisoner of conscience Hossein Rafiee, a retired university professor, has had his six-year prison sentence, imposed for his peaceful political activism, upheld by an appeal court. The authorities have rejected his request for compassionate leave to be with his sick wife, who is due to undergo surgery.
Prisoner of conscience Hossein Rafiee, aged 71, had his six-year prison term and two-year ban on membership of political groups and engagement in online activities upheld by Branch 54 of the Court of Appeal in Tehran on 22 February. The court issued its decision after a brief hearing on 24 January, at which Hossein Rafiee refused to appear in person because the authorities had revoked, at the last minute, a permit to attend the hearing in his own clothes instead of prison uniform. He had been waiting for his appeal hearing since June 2015 when he lodged an appeal against the decision of Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran convicting him of “ membership of and involvement in an illegal and anti-national security group (meaning the banned political group Sho’rayeh Melli-Mazhabi)” and “spreading propaganda against the system” by methods including giving interviews to media “who are against the state”.
Hossein Rafiee has been held in Section 8 of Tehran’s Evin Prison since his arrest in June 2015. The harsh conditions in that section, which is severely overcrowded, poorly ventilated, infested with insects and does not have enough beds and toilets, are endangering his health. He is not receiving regular medical care for various health problems, including high blood pressure and a heart condition. The authorities have refused Hossein Rafiee’s request for compassionate leave to be with his sick wife, who needs to undergo surgery. The couple’s children live abroad.
Please write immediately in English, Persian, Spanish, French or your own language:
Calling on the Iranian authorities to release Hossein Rafiee immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience held solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression and association;
Urging them to ensure he receives any medical attention he may require, expressing concern that the extremely poor conditions in Section 8 of Evin Prison amount to ill-treatment, and reminding them that prisoners must be held in adequate conditions, in line with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules);
Reminding them that Articles 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a state party, protect the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Hossein Rafiee, a retired Tehran University chemistry professor, was arrested without a warrant by Ministry of Intelligence officials on 16 June 2015. He was not told why he was being arrested. About a month later, he was told that he had been arrested to serve a three-year prison sentence handed down by a Revolutionary Court in 2004 for “membership of an illegal group”, as he was a member of the political group Sho’rayeh Melli-Mazhabi (Council of Religious-Nationalists), a loosely-knit alliance of political activists who advocate democratic political reforms. He went on a hunger strike in protest, also refusing to take his medicine. He ended his hunger strike on 20 June, after his wife and friends asked him to stop as it was jeopardizing his health due to his already high blood pressure, a thyroid condition and allergies. He has to take daily medication for each of these conditions.