Unique-Lethal Iran jail fireplace erupted as police clashed with inmates, sources say By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the doorway of Evin jail in Tehran, Iran October 17, 2022. Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia Information Company) through REUTERS

(Reuters) – Two days earlier than a fireplace ripped by a bit of Iran’s Evin jail and killed a minimum of eight folks, a riot police unit arrived on the compound and commenced to patrol the corridors, shouting “God is Biggest” and banging batons on cell doorways, six sources instructed Reuters.

The patrols on the Tehran jail started with none obvious provocation by inmates, the sources stated. These patrols continued from Thursday to Saturday, when some prisoners reacted by shouting for the downfall of Supreme Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, echoing protests raging throughout Iran since September.

    “Then we heard photographs and chants of ‘Loss of life to Khamenei’ by prisoners in different wards,” stated an inmate inside ward 8, which holds largely prisoners convicted of economic crimes.

The prisoner, who was giving his account for the primary time, spoke to Reuters on situation he was not named and that no point out was product of the strategy of communication.

The bloody crackdown by the police and the lethal fireplace on the night of Oct. 15, whose origins are disputed, have shaken a society already on edge after a month of violence involving safety forces and anti-government protesters.

Reuters interviews with the ward 8 prisoner, in addition to a relative of an inmate and 4 rights activists with contacts on the jail counsel the inmates’ anti-government chants have been a response to the police patrols and that police then responded forcefully to suppress them.

The prisoner and different sources spoke to Reuters on situation of anonymity because of concern for his or her security.

Reuters was unable to find out why riot police have been despatched to the jail, what the federal government’s motives have been for the crackdown and the way the fireplace began. Nevertheless it provides to a rising sense of the authorities’ dedication to crush dissent and keep away from shedding management of Evin or different locations which have been central to the Islamic Republic’s grip on society, 4 rights activists stated.

WAVE OF UNREST

The jail, in Tehran’s Evin neighbourhood, has been the primary web site for holding distinguished Iranian political prisoners, even earlier than the 1979 Islamic revolution, in addition to foreigners and twin nationals. It additionally holds inmates convicted of odd crimes, and is now receiving a stream of dissidents arrested within the persevering with wave of unrest sweeping the nation, Iranian authorities, prisoners households and legal professionals say.

The jail is called “Evin College” due to the numerous anti-government intellectuals and lecturers held there.

Eight prisoners died of smoke inhalation on account of the fireplace, the judiciary stated. Inmates and rights activists interviewed by Reuters feared extra lives have been misplaced. The evaluation was based mostly on the handfuls of injured, many severely so, seen by the inmate and people prisoners involved with the activists interviewed by Reuters.

Reuters sought remark from jail officers, the Inside Ministry and officers on the judiciary through phone and by sending written textual content messages with questions relating to key factors, together with the account by sources concerning the deployment of riot police on Oct. 13. They haven’t responded.

However one Iranian official, who was reached by phone however declined to be recognized by identify or the establishment he labored for, stated he didn’t know why the riot police have been despatched to the jail and expressed shock the authorities appeared to have misplaced management of the power for a time on Saturday night.

One anti-government activist, talking on situation of anonymity because of considerations for his safety, instructed Reuters the federal government could have deliberate the jail crackdown so as to reveal to protesters the tough type of detention that await them at Evin in the event that they hold difficult the federal government.

‘LIKE A WAR ZONE’

Amnesty Worldwide stated it had proof, which it didn’t disclose, that the authorities sought to justify their bloody crackdown underneath the guise of battling the fireplace and stopping prisoner escapes.

The group additionally stated jail officers and riot police repeatedly subjected many prisoners to brutal beatings with batons, notably on their heads and faces.

    The nation was already tense on the night of Oct. 15, when movies on social media confirmed a fireplace and plumes of smoke rising from the jail as gunshots rang out, and objects have been seen being thrown into the complicated.

Across the nation, safety forces have been struggling to comprise nationwide demonstrations triggered by the dying final month of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian lady Mahsa Amini whereas within the custody of Iran’s morality police.

On the evening of the fireplace, state media reported {that a} group of prisoners have been attempting to flee, and had stepped on a minefield exterior the complicated.

This model was denied on Sunday by the judiciary, which stated a jail workshop had been set on fireplace at mid-evening on Saturday “after a struggle amongst various prisoners”.

The prisoner and activists stated no inmates may have been on the workshop in mid-evening, as a result of they might have been locked in at the moment. Evin’s cells are shut between 5 and 6 p.m., relying on prayer time.

Reuters couldn’t independently decide what triggered the blaze.

‘EVERYONE WAS SCARED’

Tensions rose when inmates, provoked by the riot police chanting non secular slogans and hammering batons on cell doorways, responded with “Loss of life to Khamenei”. Then, at about 8 p.m., photographs have been fired by the riot police, sources stated.

“Once we heard photographs and chants, we tried to interrupt the door and get to the hall to assist different prisoners from ward 7 who broke the door and have been clashing with the riot police and jail guards within the hall. Everybody was scared,” stated the inmate.

Ward 7 holds prisoners convicted of normal crimes and political prisoners, and is in the identical constructing housing ward 8. Riot police and jail guards fired teargas and steel pellets at lots of of prisoners and beat folks with batons, in line with Reuters interviews with the prisoner, the relative of an inmate and activists with contacts on the jail.

“They opened the door of our ward (8) and have been capturing at us with pellet weapons. Fired tear gasoline. Dozens, dozens of them have been there. Many individuals in our ward have been injured and couldn’t breathe,” stated the prisoner.

“We may hear gunshots, prisoners have been screaming, guards have been shouting, they opened the door and threw a lot tear gasoline inside and used pellet weapons. Many inmates fainted, dozens have been injured. It was like a struggle zone,” he added.

Human rights activist Atena Daemi, who was jailed in Evin for 5-1/2 years and was launched 9 months in the past, has stored involved with detainees there.

    “Prisoners from ward 7 tried to interrupt the door of ward 8 to allow them to out too. It’s when the forces began capturing on the prisoners round 20:30 with dwell ammunition,” she stated.

Neither state media nor the judiciary have disclosed the strategies police used to retake management at Evin.

Mehdi Rafsanjani, the son of a former president, who’s serving a 10-year sentence for monetary corruption in Evin and usually has a weekly furlough Wednesday-to-Friday, was instructed on Wednesday Oct. 12 he ought to return to the jail solely after Saturday, his brother Yasser Hashemi Rafsanjani stated on a social media platform.

“My brother Mehdi was instructed to not come again till after Saturday,” he stated, including his brother was given no clarification and was now again in jail.

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