Inmates in a northwest Iran prison staged riot on Wednesday over fears of contamination amid a coronavirus outbreak.
Inmates in wards 1,2,3 and 4 of Urmia Prison started to protest when a prisoner identified as Hojjat Kazemzadeh set himself ablaze to protest the authorities’ prevention of his release despite his one-year sentence. Prison guards beat and brutalized the 30-year-old inmate who sustained burns injuries.
Angry inmates broke all the windows and set fire to their blankets inside the hall in front of the guard officer’s room.
Hojjat Kazemzadeh, had previously sewed his lips and went on hunger strike 18 days after completing his one-year sentence on November 17. He ended his hunger strike a few days later after the authorities agreed to release him.
Following inmates’ protest, prison guards closed the doors of other wards and banned movement inside the prison.
They went to the prison’s ward and beat protesting inmates. Among those who beat the prisoners are Keramat, Heydari and Babaei.
So far, at least 15 prisoners have been taken to hospital due to the beatings and their deteriorating condition. Prison guards cut off all public prison telephones so that news of the riot could not be leaked outside the prison.
The authorities and prison guards recently raided the ward where political prisoners are detained in the Central Prison of Urmia. They inspected the inmates, brutalized them, destroyed their belongings &relocated them to a high security ward called, “dormitory 10”.
Following the transfer of pol. Prisoners to the high security Hedayat Ward in Urmia Prison, it was reported that they have been suffering from headache, dizziness, and nausea due to the jamming equipment installed in this ward and its rooms.
As of Saturday, November 21, all 48 prisoners in the high security Hedayat ward have become seriously ill and requested to be visited by the prison’s clinic for the symptoms they have developed.
The circumstance in the high security ward known as “Dormitory 10” in the Central Prison of Urmia.
High-Security Ward of Urmia Central Prison
The conditions in this ward is worse that the Guantanamo Prison. The ward has 5 rooms 3X5m. There six triple-bunk beds in each room. So, there are 18 prisoners housed in a 15m2 room.
A closed-circuit camera is installed in the entrance of each room in the corridor.
Three cameras are installed at the entrance and in the hall.
There is one camera for the ward, one camera for the barbershop, one camera for the kitchen, one camera for the toilets and two cameras for the courtyard.
The installation of so many cameras in this small area indicates the intense monitoring and control of the inmates in this high security ward.
There is one camera installed for every five inmates. Whereas in other wards of this prison, there are 9 cameras for a population of 900 inmates.
In addition, every room has two jamming devices installed in them, which cause cancer and also adversely impact the inmates’ neurological health.
Every room has only one small window which is not sufficient for ventilation and flow of fresh air.
The ward has a 100sqm yard surrounded by walls eight-meter high which prevent sunlight, particularly in winter.
The ward has two entrance gates, and it is forbidden to enter or leave this ward.
Each ward has an eavesdropping equipment and all conversations among prisoners are closely monitored.