Kurdish woman political prisoner Zeynab Jalalian, who is sentenced to life imprisonment and is serving her 14th year in prison in Yazd, is in critical condition due to being denied access to medical treatment.

A source close to Jalalian spoke to the Kurdistan Human Rights Network (KHRN) about her latest situation and said: “After contracting Covid-19, Zeynab was in a bad physical condition and suffered from shortness of breath and a severe cough due to a lung infection. Currently, she is in a dire condition due to the opposition of the Ministry of Intelligence to her treatment in hospital and her deprivation from having access to medical services.”

The source interpreted the conditions imposed on the political prisoner by the Ministry of Intelligence as “an attempt to gradually kill her in prison”, adding: “She has been under constant pressure by security interrogators since her unlawful transfer to Yazd Prison on 9 November 2020, and her ordinary rights as a prisoner have been revoked. She only has the right to contact her father by phone from time to time and has to speak in Persian and very briefly. She is also denied of her rights to visits.”

According to this source, the medical doctors of Yazd Prison have told Jalalian that due to the lack of medical facilities in the prison infirmary, it was not possible for them to treat the prisoners and that she should be sent to the hospital outside the prison as soon as possible. But the Ministry of Intelligence continues to delay her transfer out of prison.

Amnesty International issued a statement in February 2021, saying that officers of the Ministry of Intelligence had tortured Jalalian by “deliberately denying her of health care to coerce her into providing a videotaped ‘confession’”.

Zeinab Jalalian was born in 1982 in the village of Dim Qeshlaq in Maku, in West Azerbaijan province. She was arrested in Kermanshah in February 2008. After spending several months in solitary confinement and enduring severe physical and mental torture, she was sentenced to death penalty by the Islamic Revolutionary Court on charges of “acting against national security” and “Enmity against God” through “membership in the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK)”.

In 2011, an appeal court reduced her death penalty to life sentence. She was later transferred to Khoy Prison in West Azerbaijan province.

During the years in prison, Jalalian has developed a number of diseases, including vision impairment, pterygium, thrush, and asthma.

The political prisoner was internally exiled to four different prisons last year. These unlawful transfers took place despite her poor physical condition caused by covid-19 and lack of proper medical treatment. The political prisoner, who suffers from various diseases due to her long imprisonment and harsh prison conditions, has also suffered from shortness of breath after being infected with Covid-19 in Qarchak Prison.

In 2016, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately release Jalalian and to take all necessary measures to compensate the damages imposed on her without delay, and in accordance with international standards. According to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, deprivation of Zeynab Jalalian of her liberty was arbitrary and in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and that Iran has a duty to prosecute those responsible for violating the rights of this Kurdish political activist.