UN demands release of dissident Iranian filmmaker

Mohammad Nourizad is close to death after hunger strikes, inadequate medical care and mystery drug injections, the UN said

Iranian film maker, Mohammad Nourizad.
Iranian film maker, Mohammad Nourizad.

UN human rights experts on Tuesday called on Iran to release the jailed dissident filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad, saying hunger strikes and a heart condition had left him close to death.

The UN’s investigator on Iran Javaid Rehman, its torture expert Nils Melzer and others said in a statement that keeping Mr Nourizad caged at Tehran's Evin prison for his political beliefs was cruel and unnecessary.

Mr Nourizad, who has written and directed several films, in February 2020 received multiple sentences including a seven-and-a-half-year prison term after being convicted of signing an open letter calling on supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to resign.

“We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion,” the experts said.

“His continued detention despite medical professionals finding he cannot stay in prison given his serious health condition, and the resulting denial of adequate medical care, may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

In detention, Mr Nourizad has carried out hunger strikes, self-harmed and refused to take medications to protest against his incarceration and his family’s mistreatment by authorities. He has also attempted suicide, according to reports.

The activist has also received multiple injections of an unknown substance, said the experts.

“It is clear that Mohammad Nourizad is not in a medical state to remain in prison,” the experts said.

“Medical professionals have reportedly found that he should be released on medical grounds. The Iranian authorities must release him immediately in line with these medical opinions and give him free access to the required medical care and treatment.”

Amnesty International last week accused Iran of “toying with the life” of Mr Nourizad by denying him access to adequate specialised medical care for his heart disease and diabetes.

Tehran has come under mounting pressure in recent months from UN investigators and human rights groups over the treatment of women in Iran and a spate of executions of members of the minority ethnic Baluch group.

“We remain extremely disturbed by continued reports of detainees, including those imprisoned for exercising their human rights, being denied or unnecessarily obstructed from receiving adequate medical treatment or care,” said the UN experts.

“In extreme cases, the denial of adequate treatment has resulted in death.”

Iran’s mission to the UN did not immediately answer The National’s request for comment.

Published: May 4, 2021 05:48 PM

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