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Politics

IranWire Exclusive: Scenes of Violence at Evin Prison Hours Before Fire

October 17, 2022
Aida Ghajar
5 min read
Fire at Evin Prison
Iran's notorious Evin Prison caught on fire but reports suggest it may have been a coverup of violence.
Head of Evin Prison part of the IRGC
Hedayat Farzadi, head of Evin Prison since August 22, 2022, is a trusted figure in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Source of the fire reported to be the prisons sewing room.
The official report claims that the source of the fire was the prison's sewing workshop, but according to the report, all sewing machines are undamaged by the fire.

IranWire can reveal that scenes of violence were reported at Iran's notorious Evin Prison on Saturday, October 15, hours before the fire broke out.

Sources have told IranWire that violence between guards and inmates broke out earlier in the day, and the fire may have been a smokescreen to distract from what happened. Since Saturday, several prisoners have been killed, and others were transferred to different prisons. Evidence suggests the chief warden of the prison, Hedayat Farzadi, and his plans to move prisoners to other detention centers was partly responsible for the events which took place on Saturday night.

Mizan news agency, which is affiliated with Iran's judiciary, has claimed that four people were killed during Saturday night's events. However, IranWire has received information suggesting this number is higher. It is not known where the inmates of Ward 7 have been transferred.

The official report claims that the source of the fire was the prison's sewing workshop, but according to the same report, all sewing machines are undamaged by the fire. 

The prison, situated in Tehran, is well known for housing political prisoners.

How many inmates were in Ward 7?

Evin Prison has eight wards or "penitentiaries," and each ward has a different number of floors and halls. Ward 7 consists of three floors, with four halls on each floor. Each hall has 12 cells or "rooms," each holding at least 10 inmates. Part of this ward holds "methadone inmates" andthe rest are charged with petty thefts or felonies yet to be convicted.

In a report on Saturday night's events, Mizan news agency reported the ward holds inmates convicted of violent and dangerous crimes. This claim is false since these inmates were only charged with petty crimes.

Mizan also claims that, due to the fire which broke out that night, four inmates died of smoke inhalation, 61 were injured, and 70 were saved. These numbers do not match the total number of inmates in Ward 7, which holds hundreds of prisoners, meaning the whereabouts and condition of the other prisoners is unknown. 

Sources told IranWire that at least 20 buses removed Ward 7 prisoners from the prison following clashes between the prison's inmates and guards, and it is not clear where they were taken.

The prison mortuary has a capacity for four bodies. However, according to the information received by IranWire, four more bodies were also placed in the morgue, and the number of prisoners who have been killed exceeds the official figure.

Was the fire a smokescreen?

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) reports that the fire started at Evin Prison's sewing workshop following a clash among inmates, resulting in four prisoners' deaths. The report states that the floor above the sewing workshop is the storage place for cloth, but according to the same report, all sewing machines are undamaged by the fire.

According to information received by IranWire, IRIB's video from inside the prison shows images of Ward 4, which consists of four halls and is not to Wards 7 and 8.

Government sources claim that peace has been restored at Evin Prison, yet families of prisoners-political and non-political remain extremely concerned about their loved ones whose whereabouts remain unknown.

IranWire has been told shots were fired at prisoners early on Saturday night.

The chief warden

IranWire has received information that the prison's chief warden, Hedayat Farzadi, played a central role in Saturday night events. Farzadi, head of Evin Prison since August 22, 2022, is a trusted figure in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He hasimplemented increased restrictions on inmates since he took over the role. He was previously chief warden of the Greater Tehran Penitentiary, known as Fashafuyeh Prison. His name is associated with the murder of Alireza Shir Mohammad, a 21-year-old political prisoner who wasstabbed to death by two inmates at Fashafuyeh Prison while awaiting an appeal hearing.

Sources told Iranwire that Farzadi has been after emptying Ward 7 and sending the inmates to Fashafuyeh Prison since being appointed chief warden. Farzadi started tightening measures against the Ward 7 inmates over the past week, including denying inmates their medicationand beating them.

On Saturday, October 15, the prison's fire alarms went off intermittently since the morning, but all fire extinguishers had been removed from the prison's wards and hallways.

In recent months, at least 30 inmates who had been in prison since the November 2019 protests were transferred from Fashafuyeh to Evin Prison. Several political prisoners and dervishes were also transferred. Four days before the fire at Evin Prisoner, all these prisonerswere transferred from Ward 6 to Ward 8.

Following Farzadi's order, guards and jailors from various wards were changed and replaced by more violent staff. The inmates now face increased difficulties in obtaining medication and medical treatment.

Sources report Farzadi visited Ward 8 a few days ago and told the inmates: "I'll make you suffer so much that even the birds in the sky will weep for you."

This is typical behavior of Farzadi, who, throughout his career, has treated prisoners brutally and personally interrogated, beaten and tortured them.

Inmates transferred to hospitals

Sources within Tehran's emergency services told IranWire that, on the night of the fire, 12 ambulances were sent to the prison, but prison authorities did not allow the emergency services to enter the prison. Instead, the injured prisoners the guards had shot were taken by the Intelligence Ministry's vans and the prison's ambulances to Taleghani, Loghman, Baghiyyatollah al-Azam and Tajrish Martyr's hospitals in Tehran. This leaves little doubt that the judiciary, with the help of IRIB, has provided the public with false numbers.

Evidence suggests Farzadi and his plan to transfer prisoners were partly responsible for the events at Evin Prison on Saturday night. It even begs the question: Could the fire at the sewing workshop have been started intentionally by officials?

We must also continue to ask: Who were the inmates killed? And where are those who have been transferred now?

 

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