In this context, the prisoners had two options: staying in penitentiaries and accepting a silent death or protesting against the regime’s ignorance. Many prisoners chose the second option and tried to free themselves.
But the mullahs responded harshly to the rioters by firing live ammunition and teargas. Authorities also spread panic to prevent the public from aiding defenseless prisoners.
The dire health conditions of prisons never get better and a large number of inmates are infected with the coronavirus. The fact that the mullahs are extremely concerned about losing their authority, which they have obtained through executions, murdering and torturing of protesters in public.
However, the regime has lost its oppressive potential and faces significant objections even among its loyalists.
In this respect, on April 14, Member of Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) Shahin Gobadi and a former political prisoner who recently succeeded to leave the country discussed over the condition of Iran’s prisons in a webinar.
The webinar was held by the Association of Accredited Correspondents at the United Nations (ACANU). Speakers revealed new truths about the Iranian dungeons and authorities’ efforts for concealment of the coronavirus outbreak in jails.
Gobadi began his remarks by explaining the situation of prisons, prisoners, and particularly political prisoners.
“According to reports received from different prisons in Iran through eyewitnesses, prisoners’ relatives, and the regime’s internal reports obtained by the network of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK), an alarming number of prisoners have contracted the virus in Evin, the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (Fashafuyeh), Ghezel Hasar, Tabriz, Kermanshah and Urmia prisons among others. Despite the authorities’ obstructions, some have been hospitalized and others have died. The regime is doing its utmost to prevent the news from going public, which is cause for concern,” Gobadi said.
Gobadi also added that there are at least 240,000 prisoners in Iran and this number is seven to eight times prisons’ capacities according to experts and lawyers. Notably, Iran’s prisons and detention centers are one of the most vulnerable centers of the coronavirus due to the criminal negligence of officials.
The NCRI’s representative also rejected Iran’s Judiciary claim about giving temporary leave to up to 100,000 prisoners and said, “In reality, this is just a public relations stunt and is not true whatsoever.”
“To prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Iranian prisons, we are calling on the UN Security Council, and member states of the European Union to take urgent action to compel the Iranian regime to release the prisoners, particularly political prisoners, who are on the one hand facing the risk of coronavirus infection and being tortured and executed by the regime on the other,” Gobadi concluded.
The 31-year-old ex-political prisoner also explained how the state security forces detained him in 2018. “I was an activist of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran also known as the MEK network inside Iran. In the summer of 2018, while we were with some friends, installing a banner of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, on a large bridge in Tehran, we were arrested by the Ministry of Intelligence and immediately taken to solitary confinement in Ward 209 of Evin Prison,” he said.
“These days, when I hear about the coronavirus death toll and infection and death of prisoners every day, My only concern is my imprisoned friends, who are now forced to fight both Coronavirus and their torturers to survive in prisons, with minimal health facilities they have to fight for survival. Some of these prisoners are as old as 80 years,” the PMOI supporter added. He also spoke about some news recently has obtained from inside Iran’s jails.
At the end, he read the statement of several prisoners arrested during November 2019 anti-regime protests from Evin prison:
“While expressing our condolences to the Iranian people who have once again fallen victim to the anti-human and anti-humanitarian policies of the Corona tragedy, we commemorate a number of prisoners of conscience in Evin. In a situation where people are at their worst in the face of the coronavirus and are deprived of the minimum international standards, government repression and secrecy have turned the virus into a national catastrophe.
“In this tragedy, the prisoners are no exception and are in critical condition. Despite the shortage of masks, disinfectants, and drugs in prisons, in recent days, despite the prevalence of seasonal illnesses in prisons and the incidence of a number of prisoners with coronavirus, we see deliberate refusal by medical doctors to examine prisoners with corona symptoms. Long-term remittances are eventually returned to the ward under various pretexts without examination or prescription. Prison officials are not even allowed to receive medicine through the families of prisoners.
“We call on the World Health Organization and the International Human Rights Defenders to visit the prisons to take action to save the lives and health of the prisoners in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
“Prisoners are now at high risk of contracting coronavirus and collective death. My request is that the international community, and in particular the United Nations, send international investigative bodies to the regime’s prisons as soon as possible to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Iran and a silent massacre and to inform about the situation of prisoners, the missing and the sick. Put pressure on the religious fascism to free all protestors especially political prisoners.
“Negligence and ignoring the prisoners’ calls for help is helping the executioners to keep the silent massacre going.”