A prominent jailed Iranian journalist has urged a newly appointed UN human rights investigator to visit Iran as soon as possible in order to inform the world about the "heinous acts" committed in the country's prisons, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
Isa Saharkhiz, a journalist and member of the Association for the Defense of Press Freedom, wrote in a letter to Ahmed Shaheed that "what is happening in the prisons of the Islamic Republic [of Iran] is a crime against humanity no less than the inhumane measures [implemented by Soviet leader Josef] Stalin in Siberian concentration camps."
Saharkhiz wrote that "the strategy of this regime is to kill protesting prisoners silently and gradually...for they are afraid of us being alive, even behind these bars and walls."
Iran has said it would not accept a visit by Shaheed, who was appointed the UN special rapporteur on human rights to Iran last month.
Saharkhiz was arrested during the post-presidential election crackdown in July 2009. He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment, a five-year ban on engaging in political and journalistic activities, and a one-year ban on leaving Iran after his release.
The charges brought against him included insulting Iran's supreme leader and "spreading propaganda against the regime."
Speaking to Radio Farda on July 11, Saharkhiz's son, Mehdi, said the reason his father wrote the letter is to help Shaheed see how the authorities mistreat prisoners and even sometimes cause their death.
Mehdi Saharkhiz said his father has developed several illnesses since his detention, including heart problems. Saharkhiz also said that his father's eardrum was ruptured when he was punched by a prisoner.
Isa Saharkhiz has not been allowed to leave prison to receive medical treatment for any of his ailments.
In his letter, Saharkhiz wrote that any delay by the UN rapporteur in probing the human rights situation in Iran may lead to the death of more political prisoners.
Read more in Persian here