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Iran’s regime is using coronavirus to torture political prisoners

The coronavirus outbreak is causing a humanitarian crisis in Iran's prisons
The coronavirus outbreak is causing a humanitarian crisis in Iran's prisons

Analysis by PMOI/MEK 

Iran, March 15, 2020—Iran’s prisons and detention centers were one of the most vulnerable centers hit by coronavirus due to regime’s criminal negligence. According to reports received from prisoners, especially those who are detained for political reasons in Fashafouyeh, Evin, Gohardasht, Ghezelhesar, Urumia, Sheyban Ahwaz and Kashan prison are infected to coronavirus.

Instead of quarantine, they are taken to unknown places

According to regime officials, several prisons have much more inmates than their capacity allows. The halls and washrooms are filled with people. This is while the regime doesn’t provide prisoners with the minimum facilities. There is no health masks and disinfectants. The prisoners in Ghezelhesar are even without soap and detergent.

The situation in Fashafouyeh prison is especially critical. Many prisoners have contracted coronavirus and are quarantined, including Amirhosein Moradi, a political prisoner who has been sentenced to death along with two other prisoners. They were first taken to the hospital but returned back the day after and have been taken to an unknown place.

In Sheyban prison of Ahwaz, two prisoners have been sent to the prison’s quarantine, but there’s no news about them. At least one prisoner has died of coronavirus in Urumia, and five others have been transferred to medical centers. The regime has deliberately refrained from quarantining a large number of prisoners who have contracted COVID-19 in Evin, Ghezelhesar and Kashan prisons, and has left them with other prisoners.

The Hrana news agency reported on March 11 that the number of prisoners who have contracted coronavirus is rising. Hrana previously reported that 20 prisoners under pretext of having coronavirus were supposed to be sent to Yaft Abad hospitals but are transferred to Suite 11 of Fashafouyeh prison.

The families of the prisoners are worried about the closed atmosphere of the prisons, inappropriate food, lack of necessary health and medical facilities, high population density and coronavirus suspected cases in some prisons.

The special rapporteur on Human Rights situation in Iran, Javaid Rahman also warned that the lives of prisoners are in danger and criticized Iranian regime officials for refusing to give prisoners furloughs.

30 prisoners in Karaj Central Prison on hunger strike

On Wednesday March 11, political prisoners of Karaj Central Prison in protests against the Iranian regime’s refusal to provide minimum health facilities and protection during the deadly coronavirus crisis, have gone on hunger strike.

Five prisoners have left Ward 6 of the prison on Wednesday evening due to coronavirus.

This is while no serious and effective measure has been taken to prevent the coronavirus outbreak and the regime has refused all calls to free the prisoners.

This is why prisoners in Karaj’s Central Prison protest against this inhumane behavior of the Iranian regime at the cost of their lives.

Iranian regime’s hatred toward political prisoners

The regime’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi claim that the regime will be sending prisoners on temporary leave. This is a deceptive tactic and applied to very few prisoners. Political prisoners were excluded.

On February 27, the state-run news agency, ISNA, reported:  “Following … some concerns about the spread of the virus in prisons, the Coronavirus Management Committee in Tehran suggested to the Judiciary that some prisoners in Tehran province should be allowed to go on leave while conforming to the terms of their leave." Subsequently, Raisi engaged in a publicity stunt by issuing a directive that new prisoners would not be accepted. Nevertheless, the arrival of new prisoners has continued as before.

Fighting two viruses

It is important to remind that political prisoners as well as the whole Iranian society is facing and fighting two viruses: coronavirus and the Supreme Leader’s ruling.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), drew attention to the plight of prisoners, particularly political prisoners in view of the coronavirus outbreak in prisons, reiterating that refusing to release the prisoners under the circumstances is a major crime against humanity, for which Khamenei and other regime leaders are directly responsible. She called on the UN Security Council, the Secretary-General, the High Commissioner, the Human Rights Council, and the European Union and its member states to take urgent action to save the lives of prisoners, global intervention is more important than ever to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, she said.