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Iran: journalist loses eye and part of face after being refused cancer treatment in prison

September 11, 2017

Association of Iranian Journalists board member and political prisoner Alireza Rajaee has lost his right eye and part of his face due to a cancer that was left untreated during his time in prison between 2011 and 2015.

The IFJ has condemned Rajaee’s treatment by the Iranian authorities and holds the judicial system responsible for the complications that have arisen due to the lack of treatment.

The IFJ has also demanded the Iranian government take responsibility for the proper treatment of current jailed journalists, including Ehsan Mazandarni.

According to Iranian news reports, Alireza Rajaee was sentenced to 4 years jail in Evin Prison in 2011 for "acting against national security" and "propaganda against the state", a sentence previously suspended in 2001. He was released on October 26, 2015.

Rajaee’s cancer developed in prison where authorities did not allow him to receive treatment from the local hospital, according to his wife Leila Liaghat. Former cellmate Hossein Ronaghi Maleki also reported to the Center for Human Rights in Iran that Rajaee regularly complained of pain in his right eye and jaw but the prison doctor only prescribed him painkillers and told him he was not suffering from any illness.

After being released from prison, Rajaee received an MRI scan and was diagnosed with sinus cancer. He subsequently underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 4 laser eye therapy sessions and radiotherapy. Later CT and MRI scans in December of 2016 revealed that the cancer had reappeared and spread to his jaw, right eye and roof of his mouth. On September 3 2017, Rajaee underwent a 14 hour surgery to remove the cancerous tissue, which included his right eye and part of his face.

"We demand that the Iranian judiciary, as head of the prison system take responsibility for Mr Rajaee’s case and ensure that other journalists including our colleague Ehsan Mazandarani are provided with proper medical care", said IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger. "This level of negligence from the authorities, intentional or otherwise, is completely unacceptable, and constitutes a grave violation of human rights."

Former director of newspaper Farhikhtegan, Ehsan Mazandarani has been in prison for over 13 months. Mazandarani has been unable to ingest solid food and has been receiving foods via serum for nearly two weeks as a result of beatings received in prison, according to reports. Mazandarani’s mother has reported that he has received no treatment from the Taleghani hospital in Tehran, despite having been transferred there eight times in recent weeks.

Find our IFJ Farsi website here:

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 22 16

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