The condition of political prisoners at Sheiban Prison in Iran is worrying, with increased numbers of them contracting coronavirus, having little access to even poor quality food and the number of inmates increasing despite the pandemic.

It is not a coincidence that this is happening in Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, which is oil-rich and home to the majority of Arabic-speaking Iranians, but rather a decision by the authorities to punish the most marginalized in society.

Tehran Bans Political Prisoners from Medical Care

Some Atrocious Examples of Political Prisoners’ Poor Treatment

  • Gholam Hossein Kalbi developed infections in both ears long ago and has now lost hearing in one of them because he was deprived of even the most minimum medical care. Kalbi is also being held on Ward 7, which holds criminals and drug addicts; a violation of international and Iranian law on the separation of prisoners by their crimes.
  • Massoud Massoudi was shot and wounded by prison authorities during a protest in March, where inmates expressed their fears of coronavirus and demanded adequate safety precautions, such as cleaning supplies and medical treatment. His wound is infected and he is now in critical condition.
  • Ayub Porkar is in dire condition after suffering a stroke and being denied primary care. He cannot eat the food provided by the prison and has no way to buy more food following the closure of the prison store, which sold poor-quality and overpriced items.
  • Four political prisoners on death row, including Ali Khosraji and Hossein Silavi, are at risk of secret and imminent execution after being moved to solitary confinement three weeks ago, where they are under torture and denied family visits. They were sentenced to death for forced confessions made under torture.

The Coronavirus at the Service of Torture and Crime in Iran’s Prisons

The International Community Must Pressure Tehran to Respect Prisoners’ Rights

On September 21, Amnesty International stated: “Amnesty International is concerned that death row prisoners from Iran’s disadvantaged ethnic minorities are particularly at risk, given the authorities’ pattern of executing prisoners from these groups when concerned about the eruption of popular protests. Iran’s increasing use of the death penalty as a weapon for repression is alarming and warrants the immediate attention of the international community. Without urgent diplomatic and public action, more lives in Iran are at risk of being cut short by the state’s execution machine.”

Iran Human Rights Monitor called on the United Nations Secretary-General, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Council, relevant rapporteurs, and other human rights groups to take urgent action to save the lives of prisoners and end ongoing torture and ill-treatment.

This comes just three weeks after there were 20 suicides reported in Urmia Central prison between mid and late September.