Iran’s Evin prison, scene of massive fire amid protests

BEIRUT — A massive fire broke out on Saturday night at Iran’s infamous Evin prison, which holds hundreds of dissidents and has detained hundreds more in the past month of street protests.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported eight people were injured in the blaze and it was under control on Sunday morning, while citing officials who insisted there was no connection between the fire and recent protests. Later on Sunday, Justice Channel Mizan said four prisoners from the Financial Crimes Ward died of smoke suffocation in Ward 7 and 61 were injured. Ten were taken to hospital, four of whom were in dire condition, Mizan reported.

Videos shared on social media showed large plumes of smoke rising from the facility, which sits at the foot of the Alborz Mountains in the capital, Tehran. The sound of automatic gunfire could be heard in some of the videos, while others showed a nearby highway filled with cars unleashing an incessant pounding of car horns, seemingly in protest.

Iran’s semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported that the unrest began when prisoners convicted of financial crimes in two sections, Wards 6 and 7, got into an altercation, leading other prisoners to take advantage disorder and burning down a workshop and a warehouse. lots of clothes.

‘Bloody Friday’: Witnesses describe Iran’s deadliest crackdown on protests

Fars reported that a number of prisoners prepared weapons to take guards, indicating the fire was planned. The agency said amid the chaos, some prisoners tried to escape, entering a minefield north of the prison, which caused explosions.

Tasnim released footage of one of its reporters visiting the prison, allegedly after the fire broke out, to prove that order had been restored. He stops in front of a clock and reads the time, 2:06 a.m., presumably in the morning, as apparent evidence that the flames were contained shortly after they started.

Evin has been the site of some of the Islamic Republic’s worst abuses, with many prisoners detailing extensive psychological and physical torture inside. At least one wing of the prison is controlled by the intelligence branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and another wing is run by the intelligence ministry.

Families of inmates outside the prison were sprayed with tear gas earlier on Saturday, and roads leading there were blocked as night fell, according at the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group. An ambulance and a bus were sent to Evin to transfer the injured prisoners to a hospital, the group reported.

Evin’s prisoners include Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman arrested in 2015, as well as journalists and political prisoners.

“We are following the reports from Evin Prison with urgency,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. tweeted Saturday. “We are in contact with the Swiss as a protecting power. Iran bears full responsibility for the safety of our wrongfully detained citizens, who must be released immediately.

Videos posted online showed residents of neighborhoods around Evin chanting “Death to the dictator”, while others showed riot police on motorcycles heading towards the prison.

Sunday, Namazi’s lawyer, Jared Genser tweeted that Namazi was safe and contacted his family. After the fire broke out, Genser called on President Biden on Saturday to “bring American hostages home.”

Genser also said Namazi was placed in solitary confinement after riots, allegedly “for his own safety”. For Namazi to be “back with the #IRGC in solitary confinement is a living nightmare,” Genser added, referring to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. “He spent 2 years being tortured there.”

Crackdown tactics: How Iran is trying to stop the Mahsa Amini protests

The government has cracked down on protesters since demonstrations swept the country nearly a month ago. The internet in the region has been severely disrupted over the past two weeks, as well as the cellular network, leaving many people in the dark and people abroad struggling to understand how the violence is unfolding.

The protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, detained by the “morals police” on September 16. The Iranian government’s response was swift and deadly: an order issued by the country’s highest military authority corps on September 21 gave instructions to “severely confront troublemakers and anti-revolutionaries”, according to a leaked document obtained by Amnesty International and reviewed by The Washington Post.

Dehghanpisheh reported from Phoenix.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.