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Cold, sick, and starved: Iranian prisoners persecuted by authorities

Tehran's Evin prison
Tehran's Evin prison

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, November 17, 2020—According to reports obtained from Tehran’s Evin prison, severe cold and lack of access to heaters in Ward 4 has made several prisoners sick. Coronavirus has spread among inmates in Ward 4. There are at least four prisoners who have tested positive for Covid-19. Many of the sick prisoners have not been tested and are being kept with the rest of the inmates without any quarantine measures. The lives of many are at risk.

Authorities are denying the prisoners of Ward 4 access to heaters, which has resulted in severe cold in the ward’s halls and has amplified the spread of coronavirus. Gholamreza Abanlu, one of the prisoners who has tested positive for Covid-19, was arrested in 2019 and imprisoned for supporting the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). He was diagnosed with Covid-19 symptoms at least ten days ago, but prison authorities returned him to the ward without providing medical care, and his health conditions have deteriorated since.

After ten days, he was told that his Covid-19 test was positive, but he is still being kept with other prisoners.

Reports pertain that the ward’s heaters are not working. Prisoners have not been able to sleep in recent nights due to the severe cold. After the prisoners protested the situation, the authorities told them that the heaters have broke down and there’s no way to fix them.

As a result the prisoners are now faced with both Covid-19 and the flu, and the prison’s medical facility has told the prisoners that they will not be tested for Covid-19. When one of the inmates protested, prison authorities told him, “If we test you [for Covid-19], it will turn out positive. But we can’t take you to any hospital. So go back to your ward.”

According to the same report, Loghman Aminpour, another political prisoner, is suffering from breathing difficulties, fever, cramps, and other coronavirus symptoms, and he is being kept in Ward 4 without any medical treatment.

Aminpour, 29, was imprisoned from February 2018 to February 2020 on charges of “propaganda against the state” and “support for the MEK.” After his release in March 2020, he was arrested again on charges of anti-regime activities and returned to prison.

Greater Tehran Penitentiary

Greater Tehran Penitentiary

 

Another report from Section 2 of Greater Tehran Penitentiary, pertains that authorities are torturing prisoners by giving them very small amounts of food. In this prison, prisoners have not had access to enough food for a long time and they are always hungry. On some days, food is so scarce that some halls receive no food at all. Many of the prisoners are very poor and were the only breadwinners of their families. Now being in prison, they have no way to buy food and no one to support them outside the prison.

According to the reports, the food in Section 2 of Greater Tehran Penitentiary is diminishing in volume and quality every day. Some days, the prisoners don’t get more than a few spoonsful of food.

The prisoners are deprived of other facilities as well. The showers have no warm water. Prisoners are forced to bath under cold water and many have contracted flu. The prisoners are also threatened by Covid-19 while authorities are intentionally depriving them of medical facilities and treatment.

The regime regularly uses these kinds of methods to torture prisoners in different prisons. Previous reports by the MEK have shown the regime using similar methods in other prisons. According to an October report, Covid-19 is spreading in Isfahan’s Dastgerd prison with authorities taking virtually no measures to treat patients and contain the spread of the disease.

In Mashhad’s Vakilabad prison, there have been several Covid-19 deaths in the past month, and authorities are denying prisoners medical treatment. "A prisoner who had contracted Covid-19 was in so much pain that he was screaming. But instead of providing medical care, the guards beat him to death," a witness from inside the prison said.

Political prisoners, especially those affiliated with the MEK, are under additional pressure. Zahra Safaei, a political prisoner in Qarchak prison, Varamin, was denied proper medical care after suffering from a heart stroke.