Imprisoned Kurdish women’s rights activist Zeynab Jalalian is being denied access to healthcare by the Iranian authorities, according to a recent report by Amnesty International.
The human rights organisation has launched a petition calling for Jalalian’s immediate release, highlighting her plight and the urgent need to address the treatment of prisoners in Iran.
Jalalian focused her efforts on advocating for the rights of Kurdish women before becoming a target of the Iranian authorities and being arrested. She is currently serving a life prison sentence, and has so far been incarcerated for over 15 years.
The activist was detained in March 2008 in the city of Kermanshah (Kirmaşan) and subsequently transferred to a detention centre attached to the Ministry of Intelligence. In her brief trial in December of the same year she was found guilty and sentenced to death on charges of being a member of the banned Kurdish group, the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).
Jalalian’s trial was marred by serious irregularities. It lasted only a few minutes and she had no proper legal representation. Despite her poor health, which was a result of prison conditions and torture, she was denied access to a defence lawyer. The court, based in Kermanshah, handed down the death penalty solely on the grounds of her alleged association with the PJAK. Though her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment three years later in December 2011, Jalalian was only allowed extremely restricted telephone contact with her family and her lawyer until that time.
Throughout her detention, Jalalian has endured physical abuse and threats of sexual violence at the hands of interrogators linked to the Ministry of Intelligence. Her elderly parents face significant challenges in visiting their daughter as she is currently held in a prison thousands of miles from their home. In February last year, her mother said she had been unable to see her daughter in person since her arrest, and called on human rights activists, lawyers and the Iranian authorities to help her to get to see her.
Amnesty International’s call highlights the deteriorating health of Jalalian, with indications of breathing difficulties and a worsening eye condition believed to be the result of torture-induced injuries.