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Iranian political prisoner exposes corruption of prison authorities

Iranian political prisoner Soheil Arabi exposes corruption of prison authorities in his letter from inside Evin Prison
Iranian political prisoner Soheil Arabi exposes corruption of prison authorities in his letter from inside Evin Prison

Reporting by PMOI/MEK


Iran, August 18, 2019 — Iranian political prisoner Soheil Arabi, who has been behind bars since 2013, recently released an open letter from inside the notorious Evin Prison titled, “When corruption is legitimate and legal.” In the letter, Arabi details how prison officials benefit from intensifying restrictions on prisoners.

In his letter, Arabi describes the changes in the conditions of prisoners as such: “It’s been more than two months than phone cards are only available in the black market of the prison and at five times the normal price. In addition to the price hike, which has limited prisoners’ access to phone calls, for some it has become impossible to obtain the cards. The main motive of prison guards for this new restriction is to prevent information from going out of this prison, which is one of the highest security prisons in the country.”

Arabi further says that the changes in the logistics system of the prison are reportedly sourced in the Sarallah base, which belongs to the intelligence unit of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Arabi also mentions that the authorities in Evin prison have been reshuffled to include people who are more loyal to the regime.

“The restrictions have caused a black market to take shape inside the prison. The change in the system has strengthened this black market, and the less-privileged people are exposed to even more difficulties,” Arabi writes, and asks “The question is, who and what institutions will benefit from these limitations and security restrictions?”

Arabi warns that the current situation will cause scams, black markets and all sorts of discriminations inside prisons, which will further cause difficulties for people who have been jailed because of debts and other financial limits. It will also make it more difficult for political prisoners to communicate with their families.

“The cycle that creates these crimes in the first place and then punishes them, which has created the economic divide and inequality, this system will make the most benefit from this inequality,” Arabi warns.

“Most of the prisoners spend 500,000 to 3 million tomans, and sometimes more, in prison stores. Some of the prisoners even pay considerable amounts to prison guards to have some of the restrictions and difficulties lifted. Therefore, in addition to the salary they receive from the government for supposedly preserving security and fighting with crime—which they never do—prison guards and security institutions also earn several times more than their government pay by imposing restrictions on prisoners and ‘selling’ minimal freedoms to them,” Arabi notes in his open letter.

IRGC forces arrested Arabi, photographer, blogger and civil rights activist, in December 2013. He was initially sentenced to death on charges of “blasphemy.”

In July 2015, his death sentence was commuted to 7.5 years in prison. In October 2018, he was sentenced to another 3 years in prison and exile to Borazjan, southern Iran.

Arabi was recently transferred from the Greater Tehran Prison to Evin Prison after his mother, an outspoken activist for prisoners’ rights, was arrested.

During his incarceration, Arabi has gone on three rounds of hunger strike in protest to the violation of his rights in prison.