Evin’s Dark Night:
A Report on the Killing, Torture, and Transfer of Political Prisoners during the October 15th Fire
On October 15th, a tragic event occurred at Evin prison in Iran, one of the country’s most feared facilities. Despite the passage of three months, the exact details of what happened remain a mystery, as independent investigations are not permitted in the Islamic Republic. Among the prisoners held at Evin are political dissidents, ordinary citizens, and those arrested for participating in recent anti-government protests.
One Italian blogger, Alessia Piperno, managed to escape the prison. Relatives and friends of some detainees have shared their accounts of the events of that night, as well as the ongoing conditions in Iranian prisons, in a document and audio file sent to Rainews.it from Tehran. These accounts contradict official reports, which claim that only 8 prisoners were killed, while the document and audio file claim that 50 prisoners from ward 7 were killed.
Rainews.it has reported on the conditions of the prisoners, including around forty demonstrators and political prisoners, who were transferred from ward 8 of Evin prison to Rajayi-Shahr prison in the province of Karaj following the fire. This area has seen violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement. Among the prisoners held at Rajayi-Shahr is Mohsen Shekari, a protester who was executed on December 8th. He was held among the political prisoners in Ward 30, and some of the transferred prisoners were reportedly in close contact with him before his execution. Another young protester, Mohammad Brughani, who has also been sentenced to death, is being held in ward 10.
The official account given by authorities is that the fire that occurred on October 15th at Evin prison was started by a group of rebels in a deliberate attempt to damage the prison and its contents. However, the accounts given by the families of the inmates suggest that the events of October 15th were instead another act of repression and violence ordered by the Islamic Republic against prisoners, including political ones. The exact reasons for the clashes in ward 7 are still unknown, but it is reported that the atmosphere in the prison had become increasingly tense since the protests over the death of Zhina-Mahsa Amini, which took place on September 16th at the Vozara detention center in Tehran.
According to accounts from witnesses, inmates in ward 8, where political prisoners are held, heard noises of clashes and gunfire coming from ward 7, the ward for ordinary prisoners. Through a small window, they observed what was happening in the neighboring ward. A prisoner who witnessed the scene described it as prisoners being hit by prison guards and falling to the ground before their eyes.
Inmates from ward 8 entered the courtyard to protest the bloodshed and began shouting in defense of their neighbors, but they themselves became targets of bullets. One of the prisoners, a student named Yashar Tohidi, was shot in the leg, and another, named Mohammad Khani, a doctoral student, was shot in the back. Both are alive but in need of medical care which they are being denied.
The report states that live bullets were fired through the windows of the ward, hitting the prisoners. In addition to the shooting, special forces began beating prisoners who were protesting in the courtyard, using batons, rods, and heavy objects. The leaders of the prison residence, such as Colonel Mahmoudi, head of department 8 and Karbalaie, a guard officer, were also reported to have been hitting the prisoners.
Prisoners were hit by the prison guard and fell to the ground before our eyes like leavesAn eye witness
At one point, some prisoners with their bare hands lay down on the ground as a sign of surrender. Then about 2,000 inmates from Wards 7 and 8 were forcibly taken to the gymnasium of the building while they were shot with live ammunition and “non-lethal” bullets or small metal pellets, similar to the ones that have been reported on the bodies of protesters on the streets of Iran.
This report describes the events of the night of October 15th at Evin prison in Iran where a fire broke out, causing the deaths of 50 prisoners and injuring many others. The report states that the prisoners were beaten and shot by prison guards, and left on the ground with no medical attention. The corpses of the victims were left next to the living prisoners until the following morning. The survivors were locked in the prison gymnasium with no air, water or access to toilets and were beaten, humiliated and offended.
After a few hours, around 40 political prisoners from Ward 8 including journalist and activist Amir Abbas Azarmvand , factory worker Arash Johari , student activist Yashar Daroshafa and Abolfazl Nejadfathollah , were transferred to Rajayi-Shahr Prison in the province of Karaj west of Tehran, while others were transferred to Tehran-Bozorg prison .
Political prisoners transferred to Rajayi-Shahr prison are currently being held in Ward 10, Room 30, which is considered the prison’s death row. Visitors have reported that the detainees are not being provided with enough food and are being forced to buy their own. They are also being denied basic hygiene and are being held in overcrowded cells. Human rights NGOs have reported that over 19,000 protesters have been arrested in recent months. Furthermore, the prisoners are convinced that the little food they are given is spiked with camphor, a natural substance that is commonly used in Arab countries for its aroma but also has the potential to cause collapse due to its ability to dilate blood vessels.
The report also mentions the trade and consumption of drugs in Iranian prisons. Drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and the amphetamine-based stimulant Captagon are circulating in Iranian prisons. The use and possession of drugs in Iran carry the death penalty. Captagon is known as “The drug of Jihad” and is used by prisoners to combat fear, stress, and fatigue, and also to take away the ability to judge. The guards in the prison are alleged to be the ones selling these drugs to the prisoners, to extract confessions or as an anesthetic for pain after torture. This can lead to suicidal instincts after release. Captagon was also found to be used indiscriminately in the Middle East, particularly during the war in Syria, according to a 2021 New York Times investigation.
Who is Amir-Abbas AzaramVand, the detained journalist
Amir-Abbas AzaramVand, is a journalist and activist, writes for Samt, an economic newspaper. Arrested on 16 August for “propaganda against the Islamic regime” and taken immediately to Evin where, from ward 8 , he witnessed the fire on 15 October. That day he was taken from his home without an arrest warrant and was arrested in front of his father who publicly rebelled against the decision of the judiciary.
Amir-Abbas has always dealt with workers’ and women’s rights. Like many journalists before him, he already knows Iranian prisons, arrested more than a year ago in Tehran, after having published some analyzes on workers and their trade union rights. There he spent more than 3 weeks in solitary confinement, a victim of psychological torture. The 33-year-old is considered an inconvenient anti-government activist.
According to the report, the journalist in the prison managed to speak with Moshen Shekari a week before the young man was hanged for moharebeh, that is, the accusation of waging war against God. wounded the guard with a knife and not killed her,” said Amir-Abbas.
In January 2021 he was sentenced to 4 years in prison after a 15-minute trial behind closed doors in which only he, the prosecutors and judge Iman Afshari, one of the most authoritative of the regime, were present. The report denounces that he was denied a fair trial or without the protection of his lawyer and evidence of the charges brought against him. Released on bail in June 2021, Amir Abbas married, but was later re-arrested for participating and writing about women’s rights on International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022, obtaining confirmation of the previous sentence of more than 4 years of imprisonment.
He is currently being held in Rajayi-Shahr, who was also transferred to the Evin stake the following morning. During those clashes he was shot with live ammunition and severely beaten during clashes between detainees and the police force, during those clashes he sustained serious injuries as a result of beatings received by IR officials on several occasions both before and after his condemnation. He has broken ribs, a crippling back injury, lacerations to his body and head, and requires urgent shoulder surgery. He is currently denied basic medical care.