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Seven dead, more than 100 infected with COVID-19 in NW Iran prison

The novel coronavirus is spreading among inmates of Urmia Central Prison, northwest Iran
The novel coronavirus is spreading among inmates of Urmia Central Prison, northwest Iran

Reporting by PMOI/MEK  

Iran, April 15, 2020—More than 100 inmates of Urmia Central Prison, located in northwest Iran, are infected with the novel coronavirus. Four are reported to be in critical conditions and held in the ICU branch of a local hospital. The names of these inmates are Akbar Nozari, Siavosh Mousazadeh, Ramin Hosseinzadeh and Saeed.

As of the publication of this report, at least seven inmates in this facility have lost their lives to COVID-19. Four of these victims have been identified as Anvar Ghorbanzadeh, Farigh Mohammadi, Hossein Javadi and Ms. Fatemeh Alizadeh.

On Sunday, April 12, authorities were forced to finally transfer four inmates in critical condition to a hospital outside of the facility and place them under intensive care. However, they have refused to take further action to test other inmates in this prison or at least adopt preventive measures to avoid a viral surge in Urmia Central Prison.

Four of the seven victims, including Anvar Bagherzadeh, lost their lives on Saturday, April 11. These individuals were in wards 3 and 4 of Urmia Central Prison where more than 500 inmates are held. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has been spreading exponentially in this facility, authorities are constantly denying such reports and refusing to take necessary action.

Reports indicate the number of coronavirus patients in Ghezel Hesar Prison in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran, is also on the rise. At least two inmates of ward 2 have been transferred to the city’s Khomeini Hospital where they lost their lives. Authorities have registered their cause of death as heart attacks.

A number of security personnel who were in contact with the coronavirus patients in this prison are now suffering from this illness themselves. Hygiene conditions are reported to be atrocious in this facility. No hygiene products can be found, including ordinary soap and the inmates have no disinfectants to clean their cells, wards and halls.



Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a statement on April 4 unveiling the regime’s orders to its entire security apparatus and placing these units on full alert to oppress any and all protests and riots in prisons across the country.

This fully indicates the regime’s criminal measures during the coronavirus crisis and also sheds light on the mullahs’ utter fear of riots in various prisons.

NCRI President Maryam Rajavi has time and again called on the international community to dispatch a fact-finding mission to Iran’s prisons and collect information about the inmates, especially those individuals who have disappeared and are injured following the November 2019 nationwide uprising, and now those suffering from COVID-19.



Coinciding with the spread of COVID-19 in Zahedan Central Prison of Sistan & Baluchistan Province in southeast Iran authorities have also cut off water to these inmates for the past week, leaving the prisoners in atrocious hygiene conditions. Signs of coronavirus have already been witnessed in various wards of this facility and left a number of the inmates dead.

The number of inmates in these wards is many times above the capacity and there are reports of prisoners suffering from malnutrition. The prisoners are at grave risk considering the ongoing coronavirus crisis that has engulfed the entire country.

In Tabriz, northwest Iran, authorities have canceled all family visits for the inmates following a recent riot and protests in the city’s central prison on March 26. Anti-riot units are on full alert and soldiers stationed at this prison are not provided their scheduled leaves. Many of these soldiers are saying they will flee if the status quo continues.

Regime authorities refuse to release the inmates or even provide temporary furloughs despite the ongoing coronavirus crisis in Iran, adding the ban on family visits and other restrictions will continue for at least another two months.

On March 26, inmates of wards 7 and 9 in this prison launched a riot protesting the coronavirus spread in this facility and the authorities’ refusal to provide temporary leave considering the dangerous circumstances.

COVID-19 has also spread in the Greater Tehran Prison (Fashafuyeh) located southeast of the Iranian capital, reports indicate, killing at least eight inmates. Food poisoning, contaminated water and any other illness in this facility raises the risk of the inmates being infected with coronavirus.

On Friday, April 10, many of the inmates in this prison suffered poisoning after authorities provided rotten and expired food. This case of food poisoning is being reported at a time when the inmates are already deprived from medical attention and enduring very dire conditions.

The water wells of this prison are only 100 meters away from an industrial livestock complex and the town of Hassan Abad where many industrial sites are located. As a result, the drinking water of the Greater Tehran Prison is mixed with sewage water and extremely contaminated.