At least four female inmates have been infected with tuberculosis at Qarchak Prison, human rights activists report.
Cramped, unsanitary conditions at the notorious facility in Varamin, where inmates recently spoke to IranWire about squalid cells and sadistic treatment by the guards, have given rise to fears the disease could spread quickly through the prison population.
Atena Daemi, a children’s rights advocate and former inmate at Varamin, wrote on her Instagram page that tuberculosis was first detected on Ward Six of Qarchak two weeks ago. The woman in question, she said, was only quarantined for a week before being put back on the ward.
“Due to the lack of care for her and other prisoners on ward six, three more people are now infected,” she wrote. “The inadequate, inhumane conditions at Qarchak, the authorities’ inattention and the large number of inmates, all prisoners are at risk of all kinds of diseases.”
The son of one Qarchak inmate spoke to HRANA news agency, expressing worry about his mother’s safety in light of the news: “Prison officials have not yet taken any action regarding quarantine or separation of sick prisoners. They are being held next to the rest.”
Some scared convicts, he said, had been reassured by prison doctors that if they did contract tuberculosis, “Your immune system will fight it.”
Established on the site of a former livestock farm, Qarchak is infamous for prison conditions that fall far below international standards, and for human rights abuses of inmates. On some wards even access to clean drinking water or fresh air is not guaranteed. Detainees have compared it variously to a “torture chamber” and “the end of the world”.