UN experts demand immediate release of dissident Iranian filmmaker

GENEVA — UN rights experts voice alarm at reports that imprisoned dissident Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Nourizad is so ill he risks “serious complications and possible death,” demanding he be released immediately.

Nourizad, who has written and directed several films, has since 2019 been serving a prison sentence totaling over 17 years on charges of insulting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to the human rights group Amnesty International.

“We are seriously concerned at the mistreatment of Mohammad Nourizad and his continued imprisonment for expressing his opinion,” six independent UN experts, including those on the human rights situation in Iran, on torture, and on the right to freedom of expression, say in a statement.

The experts, who are appointed by the United Nations but do not speak on its behalf, warn against “his continued detention despite medical professionals finding he cannot stay in prison given his serious health condition.”

“The resulting denial of adequate medical care may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” they say.

The experts, who also include the UN special rapporteurs on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, on the right to physical and mental health and on extrajudicial executions, point out that Nourizad had carried out hunger strikes in detention and refused to take medications to protest his imprisonment and his family’s mistreatment by the authorities.

“He has also reportedly attempted suicide in prison, and began to self-harm as a form of protest on February 19, 2021,” their statement said.

This was particularly worrying, it says, since he has been diagnosed with a heart condition and has frequently lost consciousness while in detention.

He also suffers from diabetes, according to Amnesty, which last month warned that Iranian authorities were “cruelly toying with the life” of Nourizad.

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