On November 25, the Iranian coalition opposition National Resistance of Iran (NCRI) announced that at least seven prisoners have died of the novel coronavirus since November 21. However, the Iranian government, judiciary, and the Prisons Organization concealed the news as of this report.
The NCRI announcement indicated that the deceased were held in wards seven and eight. “Four of the victims died in the quarantine section of Evin Prison’s ward eight, where inmates with financial charges are being held. The other three died in ward seven, where most political prisoners are being held. The number of victims might exceed this figure,” the NCRI added.
Furthermore, the regime cut Evin Prison phone services, preventing the news from spreading. On the other hand, prisoners reported that the Prison Organization had transferred several bus-loads of prisoners from Evin’s ward eight to the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, Fashafuyeh.
They believe that the reason for the transfer is the spread of COVID-19 to Evin Prison. This may result in the virus spreading to Fashafuyeh Prison alike. Last month, Evin Prison clinic denied testing inmates, saying, “We will not test you for coronavirus because it is obvious that your tests are going to be positive. So, go to your ward and rest.”
Rearrest of Former Political Prisoners
Earlier, since November 11, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) launched a new series of rearresting former political prisoners, mostly relatives or supporters of the opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“In recent days, after declaring the shutdown of 150 cities and counties across the country, the regime has continued to arrest families and supporters of the MEK. The regime is using the coronavirus situation as a pretext to further increase repressive measures and to tend to its main worry, which is the resurgence of nationwide protests,” PMOI/MEK official website reported on November 23.
MOIS agents detained Pouria Vahidian, Sina Zahiri, and Hamid Sharif in Tehran. Intelligence officers also raided at homes of former political prisoners in Kermanshah province, western Iran, and detained Saeid Asghari, 51, Saeid Samimi, 24, and Kasra Bani Amerian, 24.
The mentioned arrests were carried out on the cusp of the first anniversary of the November protests in Iran. At the time, many citizens flooded into the streets in over 190 cities across all of Iran’s 31 provinces to complain about gas price hikes.
However, they faced brutal suppression. According to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s order, the State Security Forces alongside the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and MOIS agents used lethal force to silence protests. As a result of the regime’s unprecedented crackdown on fed-up people, over 1,500 demonstrators were killed, and at least 12,000 others were detained arbitrarily.
Interrogators and judicial officials severely tortured inmates into admitting to what they had never committed. Officials forced several prisoners to make enforced confessions, which later filed against them in the Revolutionary Courts. Judicial authorities sentenced several prisoners to the death penalty based on torture-tainted admissions, according to Amnesty International.
The Iranian regime practically did whatever it could to halt further protests and create fear and disappointment among protesters, particularly youths and women. However, they could never spur society on silent.