In two days, October 19 and 20, five prisoners committed suicide in Urmia Central Prison, northwestern Iran, protesting inhuman pressures. According to informed reports, one individual by the name of Karim Khajeh-Pour lost his life.
On the same day, he and several inmates had been transferred by force from Ward 1 and 2 to the Amn [Secure] Ward. Afterwards, he committed suicide by eating glass crumbs and died in a health center outside the prison.
Following the tragic event, Khajeh-Pour’s four cellmates Hojjat Delaram, Babak Soufi, Tohid Ghaznavi, and Milad, protested to the prison guards. However, the guards relocated them to solitary confinements.
In response to this unfair transfer, these four prisoners also committed suicide on October 20. However, the guards raided their cells and assaulted them with batons despite their dire health conditions and bleeding. Reports indicate that another prisoner in Urmia Central Prison had committed suicide on the same day.
Twenty Suicides at Urmia Central Prison in Two Weeks
Also, in the second half of September, the rights group Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran-HRM) declared that 20 inmates committed suicide in this same prison in the span of just two weeks.
“Twenty suicides have been recorded in Urmia Central Prison in the past two weeks due to the horrid prison condition which has had a devastating impact on inmates,” according to a report on Iran-HRM’s official website on September 29.
This news report provides no further explanation about the prisoners’ conditions in this prison. However, it is only the tip of the iceberg.
Torture and Intolerable Pressures on Inmates in Iran’s Prisons
On September 2, Amnesty International revealed Iranian authorities’ vicious behavior and ruthless torture against those detained during numerous rounds of nationwide protests since December 2017. “In the days following the mass protests, videos showing Iran’s security forces deliberately killing and injuring unarmed protesters and bystanders sent shockwaves around the world. Much less visible has been the catalogue of cruelty meted out to detainees and their families by Iranian officials away from the public eye,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
In its unprecedented revelation, Amnesty unveiled that Iranian authorities resorted to “widespread torture including beatings, floggings, electric shocks, stress positions, mock executions, waterboarding, sexual violence, forced administration of chemical substances, and deprivation of medical care.”
“Hundreds subjected to grossly unfair trials on baseless national security charges. Death sentences issued based on torture-tainted ‘confessions,’” Amnesty added in its report.
Iranian authorities intend to remove any kind of opposition and objection via violence. In November 2019, they killed at least 1,500 protesters, mostly in public. Iranian officials seek to intimidate the society with the aim of halting further protests. Recently, supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for intense suppression, highlighting the “state’s security.”
Following Khamenei’s remarks, state security forces launched a new wave of extreme measures by increasing executions, raiding youths’ parties, and insisting on compulsory hijab. Previously, Khamenei’s representatives in the cities of Isfahan and Bojnourd literally encouraged their thugs to resume acid attacks against women.
The amplification of oppressive measures shows the government’s concerns over the eruption of new nationwide protests. Given the state’s mismanagement of the coronavirus crisis and dire economic conditions, Iran’s society can be described as a volcano about to erupt. Iranian media explicitly sound alarms and warn authorities about growing public fury and distrust, and the explosion of the “disappointment nitrate” in an interesting reference to the massive Port Beirut blast in Lebanon.