MEK Iran: Qarchak’s Inhumane Prisoner Conditions
Qarchak Prison, also known as Shahr-e Ray Women’s Prison, is one of the Iranian regime’s most notorious prisons. It is located approximately 17 kilometers from the Tehran-Varamin highway, outside of Qarchak city, posing significant difficulties for families attempting to visit their loved ones. Before becoming a prison in the early 1970s, the site was a poultry farm. Following the Iranian revolution in 1979, the prison was closed and abandoned, and its inmates were transferred to other facilities to serve their sentences. It wasn’t until 2003 that the prison was briefly rebuilt and reopened, this time as a rehabilitation facility for addicts.
Several female political prisoners from Evin Prison were transported to Qarchak
As part of the regime’s prison expansion policy, the site was handed over to the Prisons Organization in 2010 and reopened as a prison, specifically for female inmates. The following year, several female political prisoners from Evin Prison were transported in groups to Qarchak Prison to serve their sentences. The main building on the prison grounds houses ten wards, as well as several solitary and quarantine cells and a kitchen. In 2015, the site was expanded, and a few new buildings were constructed to house a health clinic, a visiting center, and a kindergarten for the prisoners’ children.
Each ward in the prison has been assigned to different categories of prisoners who will be grouped together and kept separate from the rest of the prison population. Wards one and two are for addicts, wards three and four are for those convicted of serious or dangerous crimes, wards five and six are for youths, and ward seven is said to be for non-smokers.
Women detained in Qarchak Prison being brutally beaten
Golrokh Erayi and Maryam Akbari Monfared were among the inmates housed here during their sentences. Counseling wards are the final two wards, nine and ten. Each of these wards has a capacity of fewer than 100 inmates, but they usually house more than 200 at any given time. Because the site was never intended to be a prison in the first place, it lacks the necessary infrastructure and facilities for its inhabitants. As a result, the prisoners are under double pressure and living in deplorable conditions. Following a report in June 2016 of several women detained in Qarchak Prison being brutally beaten by prison guards, Amnesty International condemned the prison and demanded the release of the women imprisoned there.
This, along with the deplorable conditions inside the prison, explains why it is also sanctioned by the US for human rights violations. The US Department of the Treasury sanctioned the Prison’s director and the Prison itself on December 7, 2021. “Soghra Khodadadi, the current director of Qarchak Women’s Prison, was responsible for ordering and directly participating in a violent attack against prisoners of conscience in Ward 8 on December 13, 2020, along with at least 20 other guards,” it said in a statement. According to publicly available reports, female prisoners of conscience were beaten with batons and stun guns by prison guards. Khodadadi ordered the attack in retaliation for the prisoners’ exercise of their right to free expression.”