The Iranian regime breached its obligations based on international covenants on the right to life and on the health of prisoners. It brought tremendous pressure on prisoners. Prisoners of conscience and political prisoners underwent increasing pressure last year and were harassed, mistreated and tortured in prisons.
Breach of the Principle of the Separation of Categories of Crimes
To pressure and punish political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, judicial authorities transferred them to the wards of ordinary prisoners with common and dangerous crimes.
In the Central Prison of Karaj, for example, one of the main problems of political prisoners is the breach of the Principle of the Separation of Categories of Crimes.
Authorities of the Sepidar Prison of Ahvaz used the mixing of prisoners of different categories as a tool for torture and imposing further pressure on political prisoners.
There are numerous reports on the breach of this principle in the Qarchak Prison in Varamin, the Great Tehran Penitentiary, and many other prisons. The lives of political prisoners are in danger in these prisons.
Parastoo Mo’ini and Forough Taghipour who are imprisoned in Qarchak Prison, were attacked by several inmates hired by the prison’s warden on September 14, 2020.
The mercenaries attacked the two political prisoners in Ward 6 of Qarchak Prison by boiled water in flasks. Other inmates rushed to help Parastoo Mo’ini and Forough Taghipour, preventing the assailants from pouring boiled water on their faces and heads. But the boiled water poured on the feet of other prisoners and burned them.
Before that, on June 13, 2020, political prisoner Zahra Safaei was threatened to death by a number of other prisoners hired by the warden of Qarchak Prison. Mrs. Safaei is Parastoo Mo’ini’s mother and also imprisoned in Qarchak Prison.
On July 26, 2020, detained labor activist Jafar Azimzadeh was attacked twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, by two inmates. He did not know any of the assailants. In both cases, prison authorities did not take action to stop the attacks or to investigate them. And when Azimzadeh pursued to file a report on the attacks, the authorities refrained from following up.
On July 30, 2020, political prisoners Behnam Mousivand and Behnam Mahjoubi were attacked and brutalized by two common criminals in ward 8 of Evin Prison. The two prisoners had been transferred to this ward as a punishment.
Unlimited solitary confinement
Widespread use of solitary confinement and for lengthy periods is one of the methods of the clerical regime’s Judiciary to torture prisoners in Iran. The Judiciary uses solitary confinement as a form of bringing pressure on prisoners, for example to break their hunger strike.
Protesters arrested during the uprising in November 2019, were detained in solitary confinement for lengthy periods. They were also deprived of medical treatment of the wounds they endured during the protest or under torture.
Imprisoned dissidents were also detained for weeks and months in solitary confinement without having access to a lawyer, or being able to call their family.
After executing the 27-year-old wrestling champion Navid Afkari who had been arrested during one of the popular protests, the regime moved his two brothers to solitary cells in a high security ward in the basement of Adelabad Prison in Shiraz. The Afkari family repeatedly enquired about their children but none of prison authorities or Judiciary officials responded to them.
Political prisoner Arjang Davoudi, 67, is held in solitary confinement in the Prison of Zabol without having the minimum facilities. He has been imprisoned for 17 years. He has been detained in solitary for the past 4 years in the prisons of Zabol and Zahedan, in Sistan and Baluchistan Province in southeastern Iran. He has not been allowed to have contact with any prisoner during this period. Even the prisoners detained in neighboring cells were not allowed to talk to him.
Both of Mr. Davoudi’s legs broke under torture and severe beatings during these years. Both his shoulders were displaced. Two of his lower back discs were damage and he is no longer able to walk until the end of his life.
Ali Younesi, student of Computer Engineering, and Amir Hossein Moradi, student of Physics, at Sharif University of Technology were both violently arrested on April 10, 2020, by intelligence agents. They were detained and interrogated in solitary confinement for two months. During this period, they did not have access to their lawyers. Both students are under pressure to make forced confessions against themselves.
Denial of treatment
The regime continued to increase pressure on prisoners over the past year by depriving them of access to medical treatment. Judiciary officials specifically took advantage of the Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease as a tool to torture prisoners.
There have been dozens of reports on denial of access to medical and health care to prisoners and particularly, political prisoners.
The clerical regime started another crime in the wake of the nationwide uprising in November 2019 and continued it throughout 2020 against the arrested protesters.
The protesters who had been shot and wounded by bullets, were detained in prison without being treated. In many cases, these instances have not been reported.
Saber Rezaei, one of the protesters who was wounded during the November 2019 protests, was taken to the Great Tehran Penitentiary without completing his treatment in hospital. He was shot and wounded by security forces in Tehran’s Qods City on November 16, 2019. He was arrested on hospital bed. He was being interrogated until November 26, and subsequently sent to the Great Tehran Penitentiary where he was detained for months without having access to medical treatment.
Political prisoner Changiz Ghadam Khairi has been suffering from infection and malfunction of kidneys for two years. He has been deprived of undergoing surgical operation, despite prescription and recommendation of doctors. Officials of the Intelligence Ministry have told him that he would be sent to hospital and treated only if he agrees to cooperate with them. In fact, the Intelligence Ministry is taking advantage of his illness and pain to force him into cooperating with them.
Civil activist Saeed Eghbali is incarcerated in Evin Prison. Despite doctor’s orders to send him to hospital, he has been deprived of access to medical treatment. His right eardrum has been ruptured 70% and this has caused severe pain and infection in his ear.
Mohammad Reza Saifzadeh Pezeshkan suffered a heart stroke last year. Since then, he has been in need of receiving medical care and treatment. However, he is deprived of going on medical leave or going to a civic hospital, both of which are basic rights of all prisoners. In addition, it is very dangerous for someone like him who has suffered a heart stroke to contract the Coronavirus. But overcrowding of wards, low hygiene and bad nutrition facilitate transmissibility of this virus in prisons.
Fabricating new cases against prisoners
On December 23, political prisoner Soheil Arabi who is detained in Rajaishahr Prison of Karaj, was arraigned with new charges leveled against him in a new case.
Political prisoner Nejat Anvar Hamidi was sentenced to 15 years in prison based on a new case filed against her, while she was in detention, and which contained no new charges. Mrs. Anvar Hamidi was transferred to Sepidar Prison of Ahvaz in March 2018 to serve a 5-year sentence for “membership in opposition groups on the internet” and “propaganda against the state.”
Niloufar Bayani is detained in Evin Prison because of a case filed against conservationists. She was summoned to the courthouse in October with regards to a new case and arraigned with new charges. The new case was filed against Niloufar Bayani after she wrote an open letter in which she revealed that the interrogators of the IRGC Intelligence had subjected her to “the most vicious psychological tortures during at least 1,200 hours of interrogation, made sexual threats and threatened her with physical torture” to extract fabricated confessions.
With the intervention of the Intelligence Ministry, a new case was filed against three political prisoners in Branch 6 of the Evin Courthouse. Majid Assadi, Mohammad Bannazadeh Amirkhizi and Payam Shakiba were sent to Ward 209 of Evin Prison on July 22, 2020, to undergo interrogation.
Beating and attacking prisoners
Security forces resorted to severe violence on March 30 and 31, 2020, to quell prisoners’ protests in Sepidar and Shaiban prisons in Ahvaz, capital of Khuzestan Province, in southwestern Iran. The detainees were demanding to enjoy their right to health, but security forces opened fire on them.
At least 36 prisoners were murdered. Prison authorities and intelligence agents forcibly disappeared, mistreated and tortured more than 80 of imprisoned political activists for some time.
On December 13, 2020, the authorities of Qarchak Prison in Varamin along with 20 male and female anti-riot guards broke into Ward 8 of Qarchak Prison and brutalized political prisoners detained in this ward with stun guns and batons. Eventually, the guards forcibly removed Golrokh Iraee from the ward and sent her to the IRGC Intelligence Ward 2A to Evin Prison.
Since taking office, Soghra Khodadadi, the new warden of Qarchak, has been increasing all sorts of pressure and restrictions on political prisoners. One of the latest measures by Khodadadi has been the purchase of head-to-toe covers (chadors) for all inmates which they will be forced to wear in the prison.
Iranian Judiciary’s systematic effort to addict detained protesters
Prison guards and intelligence agents are involved in smuggling drugs into the prison. The prison authorities deliberately bring in large amount of narcotic drugs to encourage inmates to use drugs.
It is well-known that narcotic drugs are abundantly available in Iranian prisons. This is because prison authorities, themselves, are in charge of drug-trafficking gangs inside prisons.
Addiction of young protesters who rise up against oppression and injustice is a method systematically used by the Iranian Judiciary through an experienced mafia.
According to an informed source, hundreds of young protesters arrested during Iran protests in November 2019 have been deliberately imprisoned in GTP wards run by thieves and drug dealers hired by the prison authorities.
The same thing was done to the protesters arrested in 2017 and 2018. They were imprisoned in GTP’s Ward 1 and made addicted by the same persons and authorities.
Finding access to all sorts of drugs and hallucinogens is easier than finding a book or a newspaper in the GTP.
A number of political prisoners have written letters and even asked in person to receive books and newspapers, but prison authorities have told them: “The General Department has no quota for the GTP.” Instead, crack, heroin, opium, B2 pills, etc. are found abundantly and inmates use them without having to fear anyone.