There have been reports in recent days on the outbreak of the Coronavirus in Iranian prisons. At least several prisoners in the prisons of Urmia, Qezel Hessar, and Khorramabad are suspected of contracting the Coronavirus.
There are also reports of cases suspected of contracting the Coronavirus in the Central Prison of Karaj and ban on visitations. Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience have been transferred to the workers’ ward and their ward has been turned into the quarantine for prisoners who are suspected of contracting the Coronavirus. It appears that the close proximity of this ward to the prison’s dispensary has been the reason for this decision.
In light of the prison’s closed space, unsuitable nutrition, lack of medical and health care, and overcrowded cells, families are concerned about the news of suspected cases in some prisons.
In some prisons, including the prisons of Sanandaj (capital of the Iranian Kurdistan in the west) and Khorramabad (capital of Lorestan Province in the west), prisoners have demanded to receive the necessary medical facilities. They have further urged prison authorities to quarantine the suspected inmates. They have threatened to go on hunger strike if prison authorities continue to neglect the situation.
There is an atmosphere of panic in many Iranian prisons, including the prisons of Tabriz and Karaj and the Evin Prison in Tehran.
In another development, a 44-year-old inmate died in the Greater Tehran Penitentiary (GTP), According to the state-run ROKNA news agency. Hamid-Reza who was suspected of contracting the Coronavirus was not sent to hospital to receive adequate medical treatment. Hamid-Reza, convicted of a financial offense, had the symptoms of a cold. After a few days, he started coughing and then he lost his life in detention.
Kianoush Jahanpour, head of the public relations center of the Ministry of Health, said in this regard, “We have not received any particular reports so far on the definite diagnosis of this disease in prison. But this issue is not unlikely.”
Mrs. Sedigheh Malekifar, wife of activist teacher Hashem Khastar who is incarcerated in the Prison of Mashhad, wrote a letter on Tuesday to the head of the Judiciary warning against the “outbreak of this dangerous disease among the prisoners.”
Fatemeh Shirzad, sister of political prisoner Saeed Shirzad detained in Gohardasht Prison of Karaj, tweeted about the high risk of the spread of the Coronavirus in prisons. Addressing the Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rai’si, she wrote, “Mr. Rai’ai, please think of the prisoners, too. If the Coronavirus spreads to prisons, it would be a disaster. My brother, Saeed Shirzad, suffers from kidney complication. The lives of other prisoners who are ill would also be in danger if they contract the virus.”
In the meantime, political prisoners imprisoned in the women’s ward of Evin Prison have also written a letter asking for temporary cancellation of their visits.
Civil activists in Tabriz have also expressed concern about the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus to the Central Prison of Tabriz.