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Iran: Coronavirus spreads among prisoners, authorities mount pressure on inmates

Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz of Khorasan Province, southwest Iran
Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz of Khorasan Province, southwest Iran

Reporting by PMOI/MEK 

Iran, April 9, 2020—Following the recent protests and riots in Sepidar Prison of Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and the killing of at least 10 inmates by the regime’s oppressive security forces, authorities have cut off water to place even more pressure on these inmates.

Considering the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in Iran’s prisons, this inhumane measure places inmates before a significant threat of being infected with COVID-19. The criminal judiciary officials in the mullahs’ regime have told the inmates’ families that there will be no furlough following the recent protests and riots inside the prison.

On Monday afternoon local time, March 30, inmates of Sepidar Prison in Ahvaz launched a riot. Video posted on social media platforms showed smoke rising from Sepidar Prison that could be seen from afar. Local reports indicate family members of inmates held in Sepidar Prison rallied outside the facility expressing concerns about their loved ones.

 

 

The riot in this prison was launched as inmates were protesting a lack of hygiene necessities and authorities’ refusal to at least grant temporary leave for the inmates during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Security forces at the prison responded by opening fire and using tear gas against the protesting inmates.

The Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a statement on April 9 highlighting the grave catastrophe and the necessity to take urgent action for the release of all prisoners, especially political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.

The statement reads in part:

The number of prisoners shot dead by the IRGC in the Sepidar prison in Ahvaz on March 30, 2020, has reached at least 10, including, Faizullah Mokhtari, Sajjad Pishdad (Mahrooi), Alireza Hajivand, Mohammad Tamoli, Mohammad Lefteh, Mohammad Salamat, Ali Khafaji, Majid Zobidi, Shahin Zuhairi, and Seyed Reza Khorsani (Moghinami). Two prisoners, Majid Qaitasi and Ismail Qalavand were killed during the rebellion at Shiban Prison on March 31, 2020.

 

 

Whereas Faizullah Mokhtari had been shot in the head, suffocation is written as the cause on the death certificate. The Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry branch in Ahvaz has warned the relatives of the victims of Sheiban and Sepidar prisons, against disclosing the cause of death of their loved ones. In order to prevent the news of the brutal repression of the prisoners, the prison phone lines are cut off, and the (prison) officials do not respond to the families. On Sunday, April 5, a large number of relatives of the prisoners protested in front of the regime’s Judiciary in Ahvaz.

 

Several inmates contract COVID-19 in Urmia, two dead in Fashafuyeh

In other news, two prisoners in Greater Tehran Prison (Fashafuyeh) died of COVID-19 on Wednesday. The prisoners were identified as Mehdi Rabii and Lashgaritabah.

Last week, the regime had dispatched Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) units to Fashafuyeh to prevent riots. According to reports obtained from inside the prison, prison authorities have installed new metal barriers to prevent any sort of protests inside the prison.

The conditions in Urmia Central Prison is critical. The number of inmates infected with coronavirus increases every day. The situation is so disastrous that some of the prisoners were sent to the hospital. But the sanitary situation is so poor that there’s no prospect for the prisoners to recover, and the virus is further spreading among the packed population of the prison. The prison’s authorities are trying to cover up the situation.

"Many prisoners in various prisons in the country, including the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (Fashafuyeh), Ghezel Hesar, Evin, Urmia, etc., have contracted Coronavirus and some have died. These prisons house inmates several times their capacity and lack the minimum health facilities," the NCRI declared in its statement.

NCRI President Maryam Rajavi has once again warned of crimes against humanity by the mullahs’ regime in prisons across Iran, and urged the United Nation Secretary-General, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the European Union, to take immediate action aiming to save the lives of all prisoners throughout Iran.