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Human Rights Abuses and Drug Smuggling at Iran Prison

By INU Staff

INU - Human rights violations are commonplace and systematic in the Orumieh Central Prison in West Azarbaijan province, northwest Iran, while the prison officials are more concerned with smuggling drugs than the welfare of prisoners.

Drug Smuggling

According to many prisoners, the head of the prison, Qareh Baghi, is involved in smuggling buprenorphine pills through prison elements and various drug gangs. Political prisoners held in Orumieh Prison have said that Farhang and Fatemi, the heads of the prison sections, Dr Behnam, the head of the medical clinic, and two guards identified as Ghareh Baqi and Najafi, are all involved in the buprenorphine trade.

Most of the profits from this illegal drug trade go to the resident prison judge and one of the representatives of the intelligence agency, who is identified by his pseudonym as Alireza.

Human rights abuses

Orumieh Central Prison currently holds more prisoners than it was ever designed to, which is making conditions unbearable for prisoners. The families of the prisoners have reported that while each section has a maximum capacity of 120 prisoners, they are currently holding over 450 people. The situation is so dire that on some occasions, prisoners are forced to sleep on the steps in turns, with many sitting and waiting for their chance to lie down on a cold, uncomfortable surface.

Worse yet, this overcrowding will not ease up. Orumieh is actually the number one prison in Iran for long prison terms, with some prisoners currently serving 29 years or more.
In order to further pressure prisoners, guards have banned all group activities in the prison, including sports.

The prisoners are also beaten and treated poorly by the authorities on a regular basis. In summer 2018, a prisoner identified as Saied Seyed Abbasi was beaten by prison guards and was seriously injured. In another case, a prisoner identified as Javad Shirzad (Arash) was put into a coma after a beating by internal prisoner manager, Bairam Zadeh.

While executions are carried out in the prison courtyard, with three prisoners - Naji Omarzadeh, Khalil Salehi and Hossein Ibrahimi – hanged there on March 11.

The makeup of the prison is roughly 60% Sunni Kurds and 40% Shiite Turks, with the Kurdish prisoners often sent there from other prisons around the country and given long sentences. This is important to know because the Iranian Regime often cracks down on the Kurdish population because of the region’s fight for independence and on people from religious minorities in the predominantly Shiite country.

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