Monday, March 1, 2021

Behnam Mahjoubi: Still Fighting

Behnam Mahjoubi's death reports are denied. The latest on the 33-year-old Dervish who's been in prison since June 2020. "Vital signs (even though weak) still there."

Behnam Mahjoubi, 33-year-old Dervish, who has been in Evin prison since June 2020 to serve his 2-year sentence, was transferred to Loqman Hospital after a series of panic attacks in prison. The reports said he went into a coma from the time he got to hospital and this morning Tehran time, his close friends reported “he was dead, but doctors have orders to have him hooked to ventilator for another 3 days.”

The news circulated through all news agencies forcing Islamic Republic Judiciary and Prisons Organization to issue separate statements. Both statements claimed “Mr. Mahjoubi has overdosed on medication and is currently under medical supervision.” According to officials, “His friends and cellmates have claimed he was given too much medication and these allegations are under investigation.” None of them mentioned how Behnam is doing in the hospital.

Narges Mohammadi, a political activist, who has been with the family in the hospital since the news broke out, said: His cellmates who are ready to testify told me, Behnam had medical certificates from different physicians that he couldn’t tolerate prison and he could have been given an alternative sentence such as ankle monitoring or bail. His condition was deteriorating in prison, for 3 nights he couldn’t even sleep, he was taken to prison clinic but nothing was done for him. These are all on Judiciary and prison officials that Behnam is in condition now.

Mostafa Daneshjou, Mr. Mahjoubi’s attorney, explained, “According to article 114 of Implementing Prisons Regulations, medication is given to inmate in presence of a nurse or doctor. Therefore, if there was an overdose, it’s done by prison clinic staff. According to article 116 of the same regulations, a prisoner with specific disorders must be observed by a specialist and held in a separate section under supervision. When there is an order to postpone sentence, it means prison has caused serious risk to prisoner’s health.”

On the other hand, Behnam’s mother traveled from Kerman and has been outside hospital while officials denied her visiting her son. After many hours and back and forth with officials, she visited her son for few minutes, and as Salehe, Behnam’s wife, described it, “could only touch his feet.” Salehe Hosseini added, “Nobody answers our questions. We don’t know what his condition is, whether he’s dead or alive. Doctors say his level of consience is at 3 and if disconnected from equipment, he’ll die. His respiratory function is at 30%.”

Daneshjou in response to news about Behnam’s death, tweeted: “Few minutes ago, I went to Loqman hospital. Behnam’s mother could see his son with Judicial order. Vital signs (even though weak) are still there and medical team is trying to keep him alive.”

Islamic Republic Judiciary issued a denial on reports that Behnam’s mom can’t visit his son. However, reports from the ground show a different story. Narges Mohammadi, former political prisoner, tried to convince hospital officials to allow the mother visit Behnam but they refused, saying: “We have orders from Prisons Organization and Judiciary officials not to allow anybody visit him.”

This post will be updated as more information comes to light.

Arezou Saaberi
Arezou Saaberi
There comes a time in life when you have to choose whether to turn the page or to close the book!