NCRI Member and Former Political Prisoner Discuss Conditions in Iranian Prisons
The Association of Accredited Correspondents at the United Nations (ACANU) hosted a webinar on April 14 to discuss conditions in Iranian prisons amidst the spread of the coronavirus.
Shahin Gobadi, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and a former political prisoner who recently escaped Iran spoke about the plight of inmates inside the regime’s prisons and the need for international intervention to prevent a humanitarian disaster. The speakers expressed specific concern for the well-being of political prisoners in Iran, emphasizing that they are being targeted for elimination during the coronavirus pandemic.
Highlights of Mr. Gobadi’s Remarks
“According to reports received from different prisons in Iran through eyewitnesses, prisoners’ relatives, and the regime’s internal reports obtained by the network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (MEK Iran), an alarming number of prisoners have contracted the virus in Evin, the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (Fashafuyeh), Ghezel Hasar, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Urmia prisons, among others.
At the same time, hygienic provisions and equipment, such as gloves, masks, and disinfectants are not available to the prisoners and the virus is spreading. None of the infected prisoners have been quarantined or isolated.’
MEK Supporter, Former Political Prisoner, Exposes Poor Conditions at #Iran Regime’s Prisons Amid #Coronavirus Outbreak
On Tuesday, April 14, 2020, a webinar was held by ACANU on the condition of Iran’s prisons and the political prisoners #Covid_19https://t.co/8FDEjqOfLg
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) April 15, 2020
“Based on official figures, until a few weeks ago, there were at least 240,000 prisoners in Iran. Experts and lawyers say that the number is seven to eight times the capacity of the prisons in Iran. This shows the density of prisons in Iran, which demonstrates the plight that awaits the prisoners with the spread of the virus to prisons.”
According to reports received from different prisons in Iran through eyewitnesses, prisoners’ relatives, and the regime’s internal reports obtained by the network of the PMOI / MEK Iran, an alarming number of prisoners have contracted the virus in Evin, the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (Fashafuyeh), Ghezel Hasar, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Urmia prisons among others.
At the same time, hygienic provisions and equipment, such as gloves, masks, and disinfectants are not available to the prisoners and the virus is spreading. None of the infected prisoners have been quarantined or isolated.”
The Myth of Temporary Leave
“The regime’s Judiciary has claimed that it intended to give temporary leave to up to 100,000 prisoners. In reality, this is just a public relations stunt and is not true whatsoever.
“To grant temporary leave, the officials are demanding exorbitant bail despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the prisoners lack the funds. The regime has also stressed that leave will not be granted to those with more than five years’ imprisonment.
“It has also said the temporary leaves do not include security-related prisoners, who are in reality, political prisoners. The regime has released only a handful of political prisoners.
“During the November 2019 uprising, more than 12,000 were arrested. At no time has the regime provided any figures on the number of detainees. Their fate is unknown and extremely disconcerting given the current circumstances with the virus spreading in prisons. Several prisoners have told their families that the regime has a plan to liquidate them under the guise that they have died of coronavirus.”
Suppression in Prisons
“So critical is the situation in prisons that based on reliable and eyewitness reports, there were rebellions in at least eight prisons in protest against the virus spread and lack of minimum hygienic needs as well as the refusal to release the prisoners. The case of Danial Zeinolabdin is quite illustrative of the crisis. Just 17 years old, when he was arrested, he took part in the riots in Mahabad prison and was transferred to Miandoab, where he was tortured to death.
The #International community must take immediate action to secure the release of #Iran’s #prisoners, particularly its #PoliticalParties.https://t.co/hBPXxngXuf #MEK #COVID19 @USAdarFarsi pic.twitter.com/d5a6YUvRPq
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) April 15, 2020
“Based on similar reports, the guards opened fire on prisoners in at least six prisons, including in Tabriz, Sepidar, Shiban (Ahvaz), Aligoudarz, Adel-Abad (in Shiraz), and in Saqqez. The IRGC and shock troops have attacked and brutalized the prisoners. Dozens of prisoners have been killed, hundreds wounded, and many disappeared.
“Prisoners in Saqqez, in Iranian Kurdistan, staged a rebellion on March 27. The state-run news agency, Fars, reported that around 80 prisoners had escaped. One of them, a Kurdish political prisoner named Mostafa Salimi, had been arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 15 years and execution. He was rearrested several days later and was hanged on April 11, in Saqqez Prison.”
Call to Action
“As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has repeatedly underscored, the dispatch of an International Fact-finding Commission to Iran to visit the regime’s prisons, to investigate the situation of prisoners, especially the missing, the injured, and the sick is imperative.
“To prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Iranian prisons, we are calling on the UN Security Council, and member states of the European Union to take urgent action to compel the Iranian regime to release the prisoners, particularly political prisoners, who are on the one hand facing the risk of coronavirus infection and being tortured and executed by the regime on the other.”
Highlights of Remarks from Recently-escaped Political Prisoner
The 31-year-old former political prisoner explained that he was arrested and imprisoned in 2018 for installing a banner of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi on a bridge in Tehran. He was imprisoned in Iran’s infamous Evin Prison and tortured for months before being transferred into the general population. He described unsanitary conditions where disease spread rampantly among the inmates.
After being released on bail, the speaker managed to escape Iran with the help of the MEK network inside Iran. He was sentenced by an absentee verdict to 20 years in prison and forced exile.
“These days, when I hear about the coronavirus death toll and infection and death of prisoners every day, My only concern is my imprisoned friends, who are now forced to fight both Coronavirus and their torturers to survive in prisons, with minimal health facilities they have to fight for survival. Some of these prisoners are as old as 80 years.”
Conditions in Evin Prison
“I have received many news and reports from Evin Prison, some of which I will mention below:
- One of the classifications of prisoners is where they sleep and vary based on their background and type of sentence. For example, a sleeping place on the floor or in the hallway or even in the bathroom.
- Prisoners are not taken to a health center deliberately and are falsely told that their corona test result is negative, while all corona symptoms such as high fever and dry cough and dizziness are obvious in certain prisoners.
- There is no Corona detection kit or mask and gloves and no detergents at all. Evin prison officials are currently refusing to deliver a simple drug, even at the patient’s own expense, and there is absolutely no evidence of alcohol or other disinfectants.
- Some political prisoners have been taken to places where their fate is unknown under the pretext that they have Corona, and no one knows their fate.
- Even two-guard officers in one of Evin’s wards had corona who had gone on leave and quarantined.
- The regime has promised freedom to some prisoners for fear of rebellion in prison, but when it comes to the case this does not apply to political prisoners, especially supporters of MEK. This promise is mostly for the mercenary prisoners of the Ministry of Intelligence who have the most cooperation.
- Prisoner patients with positive COVID-19 are deliberately transferred to rooms where political prisoners are being held, both to instill fear and to keep the silent massacre policy going.”
Statement from Political Prisoners
The fate of prisoners in the clerical regime’s Intelligence Ministry prisons remains obscure. Once again, I urge the UN Secretary General, Security Council, and High Commissioner for #HumanRights to compel the clerical regime to release Iranian political prisoners. #COVID19 #Iran pic.twitter.com/CWAxnmP7R3
— Maryam Rajavi (@Maryam_Rajavi) April 16, 2020
The former political prisoner also read portions of a statement written by protesters arrested during the November Uprising who is currently incarcerated at Evin Prison, dated March 18.
“In this tragedy, the prisoners are no exception and are in critical condition. Despite the shortage of masks, disinfectants, and drugs in prisons, in recent days, despite the prevalence of seasonal illnesses in prisons and the incidence of many prisoners with coronavirus, we see deliberate refusal by medical doctors to examine prisoners with corona symptoms. Long-term remittances are eventually returned to the ward under various pretexts without examination or prescription. Prison officials are not even allowed to receive medicine through the families of prisoners.”
“We call on the World Health Organization and the International Human Rights Defenders to visit the prisons to take action to save the lives and health of the prisoners to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.”
“Prisoners are now at high risk of contracting coronavirus and collective death. My request is that the international community, and in particular the United Nations, send international investigative bodies to the regime’s prisons as soon as possible to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Iran and a silent massacre and to inform about the situation of prisoners, the missing and the sick. Put pressure on the religious fascism to free all protesters, especially political prisoners.”
Tags: coronavirus, coronavirus (COVID-19), coronavirus in Iran, Iran Political Prisoners, Maryam Rajavi, MEK, Mujahedin-e Khalq, National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), NCRI, People's Mojahedin organization of Iran, PMOI