The family of a young woman student activist have begged for her to be freed so she can get urgent medical attention before she goes blind.
Leila Hosseinzadeh, 31, is currently in Adel Abad prison in the city of Shiraz, in Fars Province, in south-western Iran.
She is a master’s student in anthropology at Tehran University, a political activist, and the former secretary of the central union council of Tehran University students. She has been frequently targeted by security forces since she was first seized in December 2016, and has been arrested in total four times since then.
Her latest stint in jail started after Leila was reportedly beaten and arrested by security forces in front of her home on 20th August.
She was first arrested and jailed in 2016, and again in 2018 when she was sentenced to two years and six months behind bars.
She was then released early in 2019 from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison after a medical examiner exempted her from imprisonment.
The examiner’s medical certificate said that Leila – who suffers from Crohn’s disease – could not be imprisoned without a serious risk to her life.
Despite this, Leila was then arrested again in 2021 in Shiraz before being released after 26 days.
While in freedom, she revealed how she had suffered abuse while in jail.
She said: “They have not refrained from any torture they can think of against me. I was severely beaten inside detention centre No. 100.
“Once, when I declared that I was cold, they turned off the heater in the interrogation room and opened the windows, leaving me alone in the cold air for a long time.
“Due to my fear and the constant threat of physical violence as well as the insult and humiliations carried out by the interrogators, I burst into tears in the interrogation room.
“I recorded everything in the interrogation sheets of my statement, I wrote a complaint against the Ministry of Information and demanded the entry of a higher judicial authority into the case. Of course, as you can imagine, all I received was a storm of laughter in response.”
Her brother Abolfazl Hosseinzadeh said that his sister’s health is deteriorating rapidly, her eyesight is constantly worsening and he fears that she could soon be blind without proper treatment.
That is on top of other conditions that she has been diagnosed with including Crohn’s disease, which can be critical if not properly treated, according to Abolfazl.
He said the doctor that had seen her confirmed that she had swollen hands, multiple bruises all over her body and blurred vision, which needed treatment.
Last month it was reported she had gone on hunger strike.
The Students Union Council has reportedly called for her release and said that Leila’s detention is “illegal”, as her medical certificate should exempt her from being detained any further.
Iranian forces have been cracking down on waves of civil disorder following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, from Saqqez, Kurdistan Province, who was on a visit to Tehran when she was arrested by morality police, accused of violating hijab rules on 13th September.
She was allegedly beaten while in custody and spent the following days in a coma in the hospital before succumbing in the ICU on 16th September.