Corona in Prison; Narrated by Narges Mohammadi

 Narges Mohammadi, a human rights activist imprisoned in Zanjan Prison, wrote a letter on Saturday, July 11th, 2020, announcing the segregation of 18 female prisoners on Sunday, July 5th, 2020. Six of these woman prisoners who had no corona symptoms were taken out of the ward and 12 other women, including herself, were quarantined inside the ward.

On Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020, “Narges Mohammadi”, a journalist and vice president and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Association, in a note from the beginning of July, 2020 to the second half of July, 2020, narrates the health and medical conditions of prisoners with corona in Zanjan Prison.

Narges Mohammadi, a journalist, begins her account of having corona in Zanjan prison as follows:

July 6: 12 prisoners with corona are in a prison ward. A few days ago, when the disease was diagnosed, several healthy people were separated from us. There are absolutely no facilities and no medical care. We do not even have hand washing gel. They only give profane. We do not have energy. I feel absolutely paralyzed from the knee down. My breath does not rise. Terrible pain. I am exhausted. We are all the same. I think it’s over. I will not survive until morning. It is finally happening. I imagine Kiana for a moment. It’s as if I went to Kiana’s body.

The bitterness of hearing the news of the mother of a prisoner death reaches to my bone marrow. Kiana should not experience such a moment. I have to stay alive. The guard had said that she brings the doctor, so where is the doctor?

July 11: I wrote a public letter and explained the status of the ward. Today they gave each of us a mask. The hand washing gel that we had been begging for and they did not give for a long time, was finally bought and given with our own money yesterday. Only 3.

Our general situation is awful. Our energy is gone. I cannot walk. I grab the bed that is 30 inches above the ground and pull myself to bed.

July 13: Vomit, lack of energy. Our sense of smell is also gone. I think this disease is more difficult than the three surgeries I did. Whatever I did, I could not put my foot under the blanket. One of the staff came to help me get under the blanket. I think she was as scared as I was. Said will call the doctor.

July 14: The doctor did not come yesterday either. But today they came and told the doctor has come and asked me to go. I said I do not have energy. They said it was mandatory. I pushed and pulled myself to the doctor’s room. He is the same doctor who took me over when I was transferred to Zanjan Prison. I had never seen him here. I stick my hand on the chair and sit down.

The doctor asks me how am I doing. I say I do not have energy, do something so that our energy returns. Says: Deep breath! The breath gets stuck in the middle of my chest. I was coughing. My lungs are involved. The doctor writes the prescription. Serum and B. complex and a 10-cc injection that I do not know what is it. I barely get up and come to the prison ward.

Staff says that prison does not have your drug. We have to procure from outside. I wish they would let us eat the right food for two days and gain our energy. The food here is awful. Buying from prison store is even worse. I remember from January to April we were able to buy only 4 times from the prison store. They do not allow buying from outside.

July 15: They came last night and gave I.V. They also injected the ampoules. The purchaser said that we did not find the ampoule in any pharmacy in Zanjan. We had to go and get it from somewhere.

The doctor came again. They say it is obligatory for Mohammadi, she must come. I am better than yesterday. Medications have worked. The doctor asks: How are you? “I am fine”. The prison guard says: “She is better than last night when we gave her I.V.” The doctor says: Take a deep breath! I started coughing.

We go back. Not to the ward. To the carpet weaving workshop. Why?! .. They also brought the sick ward inmate. They do not let anyone go out. They are not feeling well.

We return to the ward in a few hours. We see the news at 20:30 there. They did not even bring the washing gel with them. They took it from my belongings. I just understood why going to the doctor was forced. And that the clip could not be broadcast yesterday, because I was not well enough. With I.V. on me, they filmed me.

They just couldn’t broadcast the whole thing. The cough did not go away. The words of the prison guards themselves could not be broadcast!

One of these sick women is a shepherd. Another is shepherd girl. These are not poor. What they are in is not just poverty, it is beyond poverty. I’m ashamed for them.

To refute the situation here and my claim, they have used these as well. They do not even know that they can expect anything in return. They think this is life. They also play a political game with them.

July 16: Yesterday, the prisoners were threatened by the security chief of somewhere to not speak in front of the camera. But the children have told the truth. Except for one. She was told to take off her chador and wear a colored scarf.

This is the same girl who told me 2 months ago that I am going to be buried, I will take you with me … and a sexual threat. And locking doors and shutters down. And no prison guard came. I stayed with her and 4 others. No matter how much we knocked on the door and shouted, it was useless. These 4 people came with me everywhere in turn. One of them was sleeping beneath my bed for a long time.

July 18: From 20:30 news until today, there is no news about the doctor. We ended up with the same one mask they gave us. That fake film also disturbed the prisoners badly.

The next day, after 20:30 news, two kilos of minced meat were brought by the director general of prisons. They said you should eat. I did not touch. One of the prisoners said that once they brought eggplants to peel. Peeled eggplants were sent to restaurants in the city, while we were dying of hunger, sometimes they would give us eggplant caps to eat. I was humiliated in those days. Today, when we said that after that movie of your lies, we do not want your meat and they came and said “you have to eat”, we were just as humiliated.

July 22: I feel better. I still can’t walk around the yard one full round. But I’m better. Some people say go on a hunger strike to get the call to Ali and Kiana. But I do not want to go on a hunger strike for my personal request. I told Dadiar that the only things left for them to do is to turn off the faucet. You imprisoned me, took my children, beat me, exiled me, and did not spare any torture. Turn off the water too.

I’m not worried about that. I have no personal demands. I stand somewhere else after the massacres of January 2018 and November 2019. Reform was not our covenant; it was our solution for another covenant. I am faithful to that covenant. And I have no reconciliation.

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