Target: Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Republic
Goal: Ensure that Mohammad Reza Pourshajari, who is serving a four-year prison sentence for criticizing the government, is afforded adequate medical care
Jailed for peacefully expressing his criticism of the Iranian government, blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (also known by his pen name, Siamak Mehr) has recently been denied proper medical care for his heart condition and had his high blood sugar medication taken away. Sign the petition and demand that the Iranian government provide Pourshajari with the medical care he desperately needs.
Pourshajari was convicted in 2011 of “insulting Islamic sanctities” and received a one-year sentence. This sentence was tacked on to a three-year sentence Poushajari had been given for “insulting the Leader” and “acting against national security.” Amnesty International points out that the charge of “insulting Islamic sanctities” is “vaguely worded” and declares all three charges to be “ill-defined provisions [which] are frequently used to curb peaceful dissent and prevent the full enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.” In imposing such laws, Iran is in violation of at least four articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Furthermore, Pourshajari has encountered inhumane conditions in prison, from enduring eight months of solitary confinement as he awaited trial to being subjected to torture and a “mock execution” in an attempt to force his confession. His recent heart problems have been willfully ignored by Iranian authorities, whose response has merely been to suggest that Pourshajari apply for a pardon from the Supreme Leader. Pourshajari has refused, claiming that he has done nothing to merit his imprisonment (and therefore an application for pardon). Amnesty International suspects that Pourshajari’s subsequent lack of access to his high blood sugar medication may be a retaliatory move on the part of the authorities for Pourshajari’s refusal to seek pardon, although it is possible that medicine shortages may have had an effect on the situation.
All humans, imprisoned or not, should have the right to access crucial medical care. And in Pourshajari’s case, prison should not even be a factor; Pourshajari has done nothing except peacefully express his criticism of the government. The fact that he has been maltreated and tortured while in custody only serves to further highlight the grave injustices he has suffered. Sign the petition and demand that the Iranian government provide for Pourshajari’s health and well-being while he remains in custody, and that he be released immediately if his only “crime” is expressing his dissatisfaction with the government.
Ideally, every citizen would have the right to peacefully criticize his or her government. However, reality has proven quite different for blogger Mohammad Reza Pourshajari (also known as Siamak Mehr), who is currently serving a four-year prison sentence for “insulting Islamic sanctities,” “insulting the Leader,” and “acting against national security”–all because he criticized Iran’s government on his blog. Furthermore, he has been horribly maltreated during his incarceration, with the most recent example being his lack of access to crucial medication. I urge you to do what is right and release Mohammad Reza Pourshajari. Until then, I demand that he be granted access to the medical care he desperately needs and that he be guaranteed safety from torture and other ill-treatment.
Pourshajari has suffered two heart attacks while in prison, the latter of which required a hospital stay of five days. Against medical advice, authorities have denied his request for medical leave to be treated for blockages in his arteries. Pourshajari and his daughter claim that authorities instead suggested that Pourshajari apply to Your Excellency for a formal pardon. Pourshajari refused, saying he has done nothing that should require a pardon, and he is correct. The laws which condemned Pourshajari are in clear violation of Articles 18, 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Iran is obligated to follow.
Furthermore, Pourshajari has been subjected to a number of cruel punishments while in prison, including eight months of solitary confinement and a horrific “mock execution” intended to force a confession from him. No matter what crimes Pourshajari is a accused of, this treatment is inexcusable.
I demand justice for Mohammad Reza Pourshajari. I demand that, if his only “crime” is exercising his right to free speech, he be released immediately. I demand that he be given the medical care he so desperately needs as long as he remains in prison. And I demand that he be guaranteed safety from torture and ill-treatment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Liam Quinn via Wikimedia Commons