TEHRAN, Iran — In response to the domestic and international outrage against the Iranian regime’s brutal treatment of incarcerated women, including those held at Qarchak Prison in Varamin, the clerical regime arranged a carefully staged visit of diplomats from select countries to conceal its crimes, as it has done in previous years.
According to the state-run Mizan news agency, an outlet linked to the regime’s Judiciary, ambassadors and diplomats from 28 countries, along with representatives from so-called international organizations, formed a 36-member delegation that visited Qarchak Prison on Wednesday, May 31.
Meanwhile, recent reports from inside Qarchak Prison describe the deplorable conditions as “extremely unsanitary, inhumane, and intolerable.”
Despite a substantial delegation of foreign ambassadors, the visit was met with relative silence by state media.
State sources claimed that the visit by foreign ambassadors and diplomats lasted three hours. They aimed to “familiarize themselves with the development plans, prison reforms, and educational programs in coordination with the Prisons Organization and the Human Rights Council.” Based on this narrative, the diplomatic team toured skills training, employment workshops, and housing facilities for female prisoners.
Kazem Gharib-Abadi, deputy head of the regime judiciary’s international affairs, stated, “The selection of the women’s penitentiary was intended to showcase the diverse and unparalleled services and facilities available to female prisoners, providing foreign guests with an accurate understanding of Islamic principles of incarceration.”
Though such assertions are not unprecedented, in 2018, the head of the Tehran Province Justice Department claimed that the unrest in wards 1 and 2 of Qarchak Women’s Prison was fabricated by foreign media. Gholamhossein Esmaili officially declared that the situation in Qarchak Women’s Prison in Varamin was normal, and the female prisoners were awaiting clemency. Though, in fact, the women had revolted due to the inadequate conditions of the prison’s infirmary.
Qarchak Women’s Prison in Varamin is notorious as one of the most oppressive prisons in Iran. Currently, it houses female prisoners primarily convicted of non-political charges, particularly drug-related offenses, in Tehran. However, human rights sources suggest that the prison also holds several individuals who happen to be political prisoners.
Former prisoners who have been released reveal that serving time in Qarchak Prison in Varamin incurs significant expenses, and prisoners are deprived of access to safe drinking water, proper nutrition, suitable clothing, and the right to make phone calls. Inadequate meals prepared from substandard ingredients force prisoners to purchase canned goods at prices five times higher than the market value.
Published reports further highlight that prisoners in Qarchak Prison suffer from a lack of sanitary facilities and other essential amenities. Besides, due to its remote location in the eastern deserts of Tehran and limited means of communication, having family visits is arduous.
Numerous former prisoners have cited procrastination in the cases of women prisoners, violations of women’s fundamental rights, mistreatment of incarcerated mothers, verbal abuse by wardens, and negligence regarding the health and nutritional needs of female prisoners. These complaints encompass experiences in Qarchak Prison in Varamin.
Political activist Golrokh Iraee disclosed that some detainees apprehended during the 2022 nationwide protests were subjected to severe beatings, rape, and threats of revoking their citizenship rights while at Qarchak prison.
Qarchak Women’s Prison in Varamin, widely regarded by human rights activists as the largest women’s prison in the Middle East, currently houses an estimated 1,500 prisoners, as per reports. Previously, the facility served as a poultry farm and later as a rehabilitation center for men struggling with drug addiction before being repurposed as a prison for women. According to official sources, the prison has a designated capacity to accommodate 1,200 inmates.