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Humanitarian conditions deteriorate in Iran’s prisons amid coronavirus outbreak

Iranian prisoners are under the threat of contracting coronavirus
Iranian prisoners are under the threat of contracting coronavirus

Reporting by PMOI/MEK  

Iran, March 25, 2020—As the infection and death toll of the novel coronavirus continues to mount across Iran, prisons are hit especially badly, as the regime intentionally refrains from providing prisoners with the means to protect themselves against the virus.

Despite the coronavirus outbreak in Ghezelhesar Prison, Karaj, there are no hygiene supplies such as soap and detergent for the prisoners. The prisoners are also lacking masks and gloves. The cells are not disinfected regularly. The prison’s water is cut off four hours per day. Baths are closed and there is no warm water. 

According to reports, prison authorities have said to prisoners that the hot water tank is broken and asked prisoners for money to buy a new one. In response to the prisoners' protest, the guards said, “You will die and then will be relieved.”

At the same time, vicious torture of prisoners continues. After 9:30 PM the lights are turned off. Intrusive inspections are performed in the halls. Prison guards inspect prisoners’ belongings and leave them in disarray. They also steal their clothes and watches. Any kind of protest is severely punished.

Meanwhile, there is also news that coronavirus is spreading in Urmia prison.

Several political prisoners in Urmia Prison are infected with coronavirus. Abdolsalam Mardan Zargeh, a political prisoner who is on hunger strike, was transferred to the medical center on Monday, March 21, following the deterioration of his health. He tested positive for coronavirus.

According to reports received from inside the prison, Kia Mazaheri, the prison store owner of the Central Urmia Prison, was transferred out of prison because he had contracted coronavirus. All the political prisoners were in contact with him daily, and as a result, they are all at risk of contracting coronavirus.

The Iranian regime still denies freeing the prisoners.

In her New Year remarks, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), said:

“Coronavirus outbreak in prisons coupled with the regime’s inhuman treatment of prisoners has exposed many prisoners, and particularly political prisoners, to death. Prison environments, already severely contaminated, have turned into the epicenter for spreading the virus. In most prisons, including Evin, Qezel-Hessar, Gohardasht, Ardabil, Urmia, Quchan, Zahedan, Kermanshah, and Sanandaj the numbers of Corona cases are on the rise while there is no adequate medical treatment. All prisoners are at risk.”

Mrs. Rajavi emphasized, “The regime must first be pressured through protests and international pressure to put the medical resources presently monopolized by the IRGC at the disposal of physicians, hospitals and the public. It must immediately release all prisoners, and particularly political prisoners. The regime must provide physicians and nurses with adequate preventive and medical equipment. It must distribute free preventive and medical equipment to infected patients. It must pay the salaries of workers and employees who do not go to work to stay away from the infection.

“Secondly, it is imperative that international bodies stand up to the regime’s criminal policies. We urge supervisory and medical care delegations from the World Health Organization to visit Iran. We urge the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to not delay taking action to save the lives and health of prisoners in Iran.”


The poor health conditions of Iran’s prisons are nothing new. Reports in October 2019 claimed that in Karaj Central Prison every prison hall that has the capacity for 200 people is effectively packed by 700 people in each hall by prison authorities. Due to lack of space and beds in cells, many of the prisoners are forced to sleep on the ground and on cardboards.

Prisoners with mental illness and contagious diseases such as hepatitis have been abandoned with no medical care, and they’re mixed with other prisoners, causing the spread of dangerous diseases among the population of the facility.

The situation in other Iranian prisons such as Urmia Central Prison isn’t any better. A prisoner descriped on Jan. 30, 2019 the poor conditions in notorious Evin prison as a hellhole. He wrote: “The wards of Evin Prison are packed with inmates, far higher than the capacity. Twenty to twenty-five inmates are held in one room, most of whom sleep on the floor. The food is very poor in quality. They use soya in the food that is specially made for livestock. The food literally cannot be eaten. There is no sign of vegetables or any protein-rich foods. The inmates are served half-cooked rice and soya on a daily basis.

“In regards to those who become ill, there is literally no medical care. There is not even any medicine or medical care for simple cases of colds. Doctors only visit a very limited number of inmates each day. Each section with 200 inmates are only allowed to send five people for such visits. Even if you are able to be visited there is literally no medicine. Prison authorities say, ‘A noble individual must be found to purchase medicine because the prison has no responsibility in this regard.’