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Prisoners

Cover Up? What Do We Know About Evin Prison Fire

October 22, 2022
Roghayeh Rezaei
3 min read
A fire at a section of Tehran's notorious Evin prison made the headlines a week ago as anti-government protests rocked the Iranian capital and dozens of other cities
A fire at a section of Tehran's notorious Evin prison made the headlines a week ago as anti-government protests rocked the Iranian capital and dozens of other cities

A fire at a section of Tehran's notorious Evin prison made the headlines a week ago as anti-government protests rocked the Iranian capital and dozens of other cities. 

Details remain scarce over what happened on the evening of October 15 in ward 7 of the secretive compound known for housing political prisoners and for the ill-treatment of inmates.  

But evidence suggests the blaze was intentional and meant to cover up the shooting of prisoners. 

The Judiciary claimed the fire was caused by a "riot" and that eight inmates had died from smoke inhalation.  

However, sources told IranWire that at least 13 people had lost their lives in the incident. And according to a list obtained by IranWire, at least eleven political prisoners were injured. The condition of one of them was said to be critical. 

Videos shared online on the night of the tragedy showed flames and smoke at the site, while gunshots and explosions could be heard. 

In some clips, people can be seen on the roof of the prison pouring substances that appeared to fuel the fire. 

Other videos showed several projectiles being fired at ward 7, followed by a large explosion. Witnesses said these projectiles were explosives launched by security forces.  

Police clashed with inmates

Hundreds of the activists arrested in recent weeks for their participation in the ongoing anti-government protests have been sent to Evin. 

Reuters news agency quoted unidentified sources as saying that two days before a fire ripped through ward 7, a riot police unit arrived at the detention center and began to patrol the corridors, shouting "God is Greatest" and banging batons on cell doors. 

These patrols continued until October 15, when some prisoners reacted by shouting for the downfall of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, according to the sources. 

"Then we heard shots and chants of 'Death to Khamenei' by prisoners in other wards," said an inmate in ward 8. 

Mosiab Raisi Yeganeh, a political prisoner who was in ward 8 and has now been released, said the prisoners inside ward 7 were taken to an area called "360" where they were fired at. Yeganeh told Iran International that he saw the prisoners "falling to the ground like leaves." 

“Shot in the back” 

 According to IranWire's sources from inside Evin prison, 11 of the prisoners injured in ward 8 are political prisoners. These inmates are: Mohammed Khani, Javad Sidi, Siros Qercha, Sephar Imam Juma, Reza Qalandari, Mehdi Vafaei, Meysam Dehbanzadeh, Ayoub Harari, Mehran Karimi, Yashar Tawhidi and Parsa Golshani.  

Sources told IranWire that Tawhidi was in a critical condition, something Yeganeh confirmed in his interview with Iran International.  

A source reported that Khani, a translator, researcher and former student activist, was wounded by a bullet and told Iranwire: "Mohammed was shot in the back near the spinal cord, and because he was not treated, the possibility of infection and even organ failure is very high." 

In a tweet, lawyer Mustafa Nili said Khani “was supposed to be sent to the hospital” but that did not happen.  

“Considering the severity of the injury and the possibility of infection, his health is in danger," he wrote. 

Inmates in Iran are often denied badly needed medical treatment, but it appears that the degree of cruelty of prison officers has increased since the ongoing anti-government protest movement, now in its 35th day. 

The way jailed activist Hossein Ronaghi is being treated is only one example of the cruelty inmates are being subjected to. 

Ronaghi was arrested by security forces during a raid on his house, but he managed to escape and later voluntarily handed himself over to the Evin Prosecutor's Office. 

Days after his arrest, Ronaghi told his mother that officers had broken both of his legs and did not allow him to see a doctor. 

Ronaghi’s family have not heard from him since October 13.  

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