The basement of the Central Prison of Shiraz (Adelabad Prison), where protester and champion wrestler Navid Afkari spent his last days, is a literal torture chamber run by the Revolutionary Guards’ (IRGC) Intelligence division.
The basement, known as “Ebrat” or, in English, “a lesson”, is the place where detained protesters are tortured into confessions before being sent to prison or the gallows. On the entrance, it is written: “There is no God here!”
While most people held there took part in the November 2019 uprising, it could have been any protest that saw them arrested. It is reported that all those injured by security forces during the November 2019 protests were dragged from hospitals and taken to Ebrat, along with protesters arrested in Tehran, Isfahan, Behbahan, Sanandaj, Karaj.
Of course, the IRGC tries to prevent the names and identifying details about prisoners from leaking, so that international organizations cannot lobby on the behalf of those being harassed, violated, and far too often killed under torture.
The guards who torture the detainees are also trying to prevent their names from leaking, so they call themselves by titles, like “left-handed Jalal”, “Godless Majid”, and “shameless Hussein”.
Some of the physical tortures:
- Nails pulled out
- Suspended from the ceiling
- Beaten with a cable on their hands, feet, and fingers, often breaking bones
- Being stripped and made to stand in scorching heat or extreme cold
- Being blindfolded while tortured
These are all designed to extract false confessions, but the psychological tortures caused by prison conditions are often worse.
Not only are roughly 400 protesters crammed into cells where they have at most 1 meter squared of space, but the hygiene conditions are appalling, with only a hole as a toilet and no bath or shower. If prisoners wish to wash, they can have a cold shower in the yard, whilst being hit with the hose by guards.
These conditions make it easy for the coronavirus to spread, but they are also denied medical care as a matter of course.
They are banned from speaking to each other and can have their food ration cut for talking, while they are also not allowed to use the phone to talk to anyone outside the basement walls.
Iran Human Rights Monitor wrote: “[We call] on the UN human rights bodies and all international human rights organizations to form an international delegation to visit prisons and detention centers in Iran. They should particularly demand to meet with the detained protesters and take effective measures to secure their release.”