Fire in Evin prison in Tehran
At least four inmates died and around 60 were injured in a fire at Evin prison in Tehran, after a month of protests against the death of young Iranian Mahsa Amini, the Judiciary announced on Sunday.
The authorities have accused « thugs » of causing clashes and a fire in this infamous detention center on Saturday evening, but NGOs have questioned this version.
According to the Judicial Authority, “four prisoners, sentenced for theft, died after inhaling smoke and 61 were injured, four of them seriously”.
The official Irna news agency said the incidents had ‘nothing to do’ with protests following the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, which entered its fifth week despite a crackdown that left at least 108 people dead. , according to the NGO Iran Human Rights (IHR), based in Oslo.
On videos posted on social networks, gunshots and the sound of explosions were audible on Saturday evening near the prison, where foreigners are detained in particular and which is known for its mistreatment of political prisoners.
« Given how normal the lying of official officials has become, we do not accept official explanations, » IHR retorted.
Relatives of the detainees and human rights defenders have assured that the authorities used tear gas during these incidents.
Hundreds of people arrested during protests over the death of Mahsa Amini have reportedly been sent to Evin, sometimes dubbed « Evin University » because of the large number of intellectuals held there.
After the fire, several NGOs as well as the United States expressed concern for the prisoners, but several foreign detainees were able to contact their families.
« Prisoners, including political detainees, are completely defenseless » in Evin, said Hadi Ghaemi, director of the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, stressed that the Iranian authorities had « a legal obligation to respect and protect the life and well-being of all prisoners ».
Among the foreign detainees are the Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and the American Siamak Namazi.
Fariba Adelkhah’s support group said they had « reassuring » news and Siamak Namazi’s US attorney said he had « been moved to a secure area of the prison ».
France said it was following « with the greatest attention » the fate of the French « arbitrarily detained » in Evin.
The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell asked him for “maximum transparency” from the Iranian authorities, while the European Union is preparing to impose sanctions on Iran on Monday.
The family of Austrian detainee Massoud Mossaheb said he was alive but suffering from smoke inhalation. The other Austrian prisoner Kamran Ghaderi is also safe.
Similarly, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry, Alessia Piperno, an Italian globetrotter arrested on September 28 and detained in Evina, is doing well.
Hossein Sadeghi, the father of human rights activist Arash Sadeghi arrested a few days ago, has confirmed his son is alive after speaking with him.
Australian scholar Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was detained in Evine, said she learned from relatives of the political prisoners that they were « all safe ».
» Much more «
According to NGOs, demonstrations took place in the night in solidarity with the detainees of Evin, then on Sunday, in particular at the University of Tehran, after a new day of protests on Saturday under the slogan “The beginning of the end! » power.
Despite the closure of the surrounding roads, demonstrators went to the prison, chanting in particular “Death to the dictator”, according to the sounds of videos shared by the online media 1500tasvir.
The death of Mahsa Amini was the spark of this wave of protest. The young Iranian Kurd died three days after her arrest in Tehran by the morality police, who accused her of having violated the strict dress code in force in the country, imposing in particular the wearing of the veil for women.
Since then, Iranian women, many bareheaded, have been at the forefront of the movement.
Iranian leaders accuse the West and in particular the United States of fomenting « riots ». On Sunday, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accused his American counterpart Joe Biden of « inciting chaos ».
The head of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran’s ideological army, for his part accused the West of fomenting « riots » in several schools.
The protests in Iran are the largest since those in 2019 against rising gasoline prices in that country.
But according to Carnegie Europe analyst Cornelius Adebahr, it takes “much more than protests and sanctions” to topple the Iranian regime.
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