News : Human rights
- Published: Friday, 20 March 2020
In parallel with the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Iran and the climbing mortality figures, the lives of prisoners, particularly political ones, are at serious risk.
Notably, in November, the Iranian regime has killed at least 1,500 protesters in public and arrested more than 12,000 others according to dissident reports. Detainees were immediately exposed to torture and ill-treatment by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents for forced confession. Many tortured arrestees also lost their lives due to the excessive use of violence by interrogators.
However, the remaining jailed protesters are going through dire conditions and suffering from the lack of essential items including health and disinfectant goods. Prison guards announced that prisoners’ families should provide health items and prison management won’t give them any health goods. Remarkably, reports say that several prisoners including political prisoners have been infected with COVID-19 in different prisons across the country and some of them have died.
In this context, two protesters, who are held in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, recently explained the prison’s conditions in two separate letters. Soheil Alipanah, 20, and Abolfazl Karimi, 18, were arrested during the November protests. Here’s what they wrote.
Soheil Alipanah Hailed All Freedom-Loving People, Writing…
“This is Soheil Alipanah, a 20-year-old youth. Before going to jail, I was a third-semester accounting student. I lived in Tehran’s slum, Andisheh town, and now I carry the voice of myself and my partners from behind bars of the Greater Tehran Prison.
“We came to the streets in protest to the dire economic conditions, high-prices, and weak function of the [Hassan] Rouhani administration and of course the entire religious tyranny.
“[Security forces] viciously opened fire on protesters and killed many of us, and they have buried us alive in this mass grave.
“We tolerated various types of torture since our arrest, however, seeing the injustice instances is more painful than physical torture such as getting hit with electric shockers or batons.
“I witnessed with my own eyes that [the regime] has freed looters, drug dealers, embezzlers, corrupt people, and real criminals, or given them furloughs or other privileges. However, remaining in jail are prisoners like me, who would have to work since beginning our teenage era, nightly educated, and now are deprived of continuing our education.
“Political prisoners are sentenced to death without having touched a weapon or harmed anyone. We just protested injustice and shouted, ‘It is not our right to be burnt in this hell,’ and ‘It is not our right to be buried alive.’
“I passed 20 years of my life, however, I never laughed once from my heart. I always faced poverty, discrimination, and injustice! [Therefore,] I joined [hunger] strikers.
“I wish our voice would be heard, and there would be a savior. I no longer have any desire to eat or drink. We will either die or be rescued by someone.
“Soheil Alipanah, March 16, 2020, from the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary”
Abolfazl Karimi Also Wrote…
On March 16, the political prisoner Abolfazl Karimi, 18, announced his hunger strike along with 40 other political prisoners in the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary. He also noted,
“This is Abolfazl Karimi, son of Mohammad. I am a worker, and my mother is severely ill. She suffers from heart disease and I was nursing her. I was covering the expenditure of her treatment and medicine.
“I am the single child of my parents, and no one assists our family. We live in the worst economic conditions. My father has been unemployed, and he is crippled as well. I struggled hard to make ends meet by 1.5 million tomans [around $100 per month].
“I am working even in jail and try to provide money for my family with cleaning jobs. Given his fractured leg, my father cannot work. My mother has recently undergone surgery and has been in a coma for a month.
“I had a tough time in Evin Prison and my mother was unaware of my conditions because [prison] guards prevented me from calling my family. [Officials] initially kept me in solitary confinement for 50 days. Interrogators threatened me about arresting my parents. They tortured me in the IRGC’s intelligence prisons with electric shockers, saying, ‘You killed our agent!’ They fractured my head, pulled my nails, and broke my tooth with kicks.
“I urge everyone, ‘Don’t say the IRGC’s intelligence sector didn’t torture anyone.’ They are the worst oppressors. I call on the people who support us. I swear to God that we went to the streets to protest high-prices and fought for [the people]. Don’t leave us alone! I entered the hunger strike and won’t eat anything until [the regime] releases me!”
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