A fire broke out in Qarchak women’s prison in Tehran province last night with plumes of smoke going up from the facility.
Families of women incarcerated at the facility gathered outside, seeking information about their loved ones.
This urgency arose as prison phone lines had been abruptly cut off, leaving them fearful.
“I was talking with my sister when suddenly I heard inmates screaming, and the call abruptly disconnected,” the brother of a prisoner told IranWire.
Learning about the prison fire through social media, he immediately made his way to Qarchak prison but upon arrival he was met with the heavy presence of riot squads.
Earlier a reliable source told IranWire security forces had been deployed to the prison.
According to this source the fire started earlier in the evening, reportedly originating from the yard of Block 5 before quickly spreading to other areas.
This incident occurred as some prisoners at Qarchak had planned to commemorate Mahsa Amini and mark the first anniversary of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” movement.
The fire led to prisoners in Qarchak raising protest slogans, but shortly after that guards launched a violent attack on the inmates.
A source said guards brutally beat the prisoners with batons, and dozens of gunshots were heard inside the facility.
Despite the blocks being filled with smoke, the prisoners were not allowed to evacuate.
According to information received by IranWire, several prisoners in Qarchak sustained injuries, with some in critical condition.
The brother of one of the inmates corroborated this account during an interview with IranWire.
He reported seeing multiple ambulances departing from the prison premises but was unable to determine to which hospital the injured were being transported.
“The prisoners had planned to hold an event today, like inmates from other prisons and supporters from outside,” the son of another inmate told IranWire.
He maintained contact with his mother until the last moments and claimed the fire was started by prison authorities during their attack on the women.
On Saturday evening Mizan, a news agency affiliated with the judiciary, confirmed IranWire’s report of a fire in Qarchak prison without providing additional details.
Official news agency IRNA reported, “It is said that the cause of the incident was the burning of beds and clothing by prisoners on death row in protest against prison management.”
This is not the first instance of a prison fire in Iran, nor is it the first time the judiciary has attributed such fires to the actions of prisoners.
On the evening of Oct. 15 last year Tehran’s Evin prison in Tehran was engulfed in flames. The fire coincided with the sound of prison alarms, followed by a series of gunshots and chants of “Death to the dictator!”
The following morning the judiciary officially confirmed that at least “four individuals” had lost their lives as a result of the fire, but this count was subsequently revised upward to eight.
According to the judiciary’s media outlet, among the dozens of individuals injured, the condition of four was reported as “serious”.
IranWire reported a higher death toll than the official numbers suggested.