Semnana Prison, Iran -  Zahra Nik-A’in and Taraneh Torabi are Baha’i women who have been sentenced to 20 and 23 months of prison respectively despite being mothers to small infants. Nak-A’in’s infant is 11 months old, and Torabi’s child is only 5 months old.

Both mothers and both children are allegedly in need of immediate medical care, which is not being provided in the Iranian prison system.

Foad Khanjani

Zahra Nik-A’in and Taraneh Torabi are not the only ones neglected in Iran’s prisons. Denial of medical care is a frequent tactic of intimidation used by Iranian guards, one that has been condemned by many organizations around the world. Former student Foad Khanjani was denied medical care for a cyst in his abdomen despite having permission from the authorities, and Afif Naimi wasn’t transferred to the proper medical facilities for five years, since his arrest in May 2008 to his transfer in November 2012.

A researcher for Amnesty International said that:

The bottom line is that delay and denial of medical care as a means to put pressure on prisoners in Iran, and the ones we deal with are mainly political prisoners, is documented, we’ve spoken openly about it, we’ve campaigned on it.

The denial of crucial medical treatment is meant to silence the voices of those who are lost in Iran’s prisons, particularly those of political prisoners, and Iran must be held accountable. In the case of Zahra and Taraneh, it is not only their lives but also the lives of their children that are at risk. Because those of the Baha’i faith are particularly vulnerable to excessive and unfair imprisonment in Iran, the denial of medical treatment in prison is an issue that strongly affects the Baha’i community.