Iran urged to release rights activist with Covid-19 symptoms

GENEVA: A group of independent UN human rights experts has called for Iran to urgently release an activist who reportedly is ill with Covid-19 symptoms “before it is too late”. They said Narges Mohammadi appears to have contracted the virus in Zanjan Prison, located in the capital, Tehran, where she is serving a 16-year sentence stemming from her work on human rights.

She has been in detention since 2015 and was sentenced in May 2016.

“We are extremely concerned for Mohammadi’s well-being. We previously raised concerns that she and other individuals in Iranian prisons are at great risk if they contract Covid-19 and we called for their immediate release”, the experts said on Wednesday. “For those with underlying health conditions, such as Mohammadi, it may have life-or-death consequences. The Iranian authorities must act now before it is too late.” Mohammadi showed the first symptoms of Covid-19 on 29 June, according to the experts. Her condition deteriorated and she suffered a loss of consciousness on 5 July.

The rights experts said Mohammadi should receive the results of the Covid-19 test she took, three days later, and she also should be moved to a hospital for proper care. One of her cellmates has tested positive for the disease and others have displayed symptoms. “We also deplore the publishing of a video by State-affiliated media which claims to portray Ms Mohammadi receiving a medical check-up by a doctor, reportedly to suggest that she is in good health. This video represents a violation of Ms. Mohammadi’s privacy rights and has no value as its content cannot be verified in any way”, they added.

The 16 experts calling for her release were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. Their mandates cover specific country situations or thematic issues. They are neither UN staff, nor are they paid by the Organization.