What goes on in the prison cells of ordinary prisoners in Iran, which are less considered by the foreign media and cyberspace? Is anyone listening to their cries? What do we know about the methods of torture and psychological pressure in prisons?
What are the meanings of words like, “horror sentence,” “money rope,” or “floor sleepers”?
The following is a report by a prison aid worker who summarized some of his observations for the information of the people:
You may not have heard of the ‘horror sentence.’ Unfortunately, this sentence has been carried out in Iranian prisons for many years and is shattering the souls of the death row prisoners. Death row prisoners fall asleep every night with the image of death and the last day of their lives, and in principle, they are living only for the day they wake up. These prisoners are always waiting for the prison guard to rush into the hall and transfer them to solitary confinement to serve their sentences.
This is a nightmare that accompanies death-row prisoners for a month, a year, and maybe several years. Prison officials deliberately carry out the ‘horror sentence’ to intimidate other detainees and prevent possible riots. In this way, the prisoner is transferred to solitary confinement to serve his death sentence, and sometimes he is kept in solitary confinement for two to three days and then returned to the hall.
Some prisoners are even taken to the gallows and returned. This is perhaps one of the worst forms of torture. The seconds for a prisoner sentenced to the ‘horror sentence’ pass like years.
After the execution of each prisoner, the atmosphere inside the halls is extremely heavy and sad. The emotional connection between the prisoners is very deep and strong. Due to the distance from the family and the hard life inside the prison, when someone is executed from inside a hall, anxiety, and panic are seen in the eyes of other prisoners.
Infecting Prisoner with Methadone
Wardens inside the prison sometimes systematically distribute methadone to the inmates to calm them down and prevent them from protesting. After a while, once the inmate becomes contaminated with ready-made methadone, they can be easily controlled.
Whenever he wants to raise his voice in protest, his methadone is cut off, which keeps him calm and silent. This is something they can never do with political prisoners. All kinds of drugs are exchanged and bought and sold systematically inside the prisons by the prison staff and officers. The entry of materials into the halls is controlled by staff and wardens. By doing so, prison officials both pocket large sums of money and control addicts and the needy more easily and painlessly.
Prisoners who are transferred to solitary confinement to serve their death sentences are given large amounts of psychotropic pills and narcotics the night before their execution so that they become almost anesthetized at the time of execution and no protests or clashes occur during the execution.
Prisoners are sometimes released on the pretext of a health facility or cultural unit and transferred to solitary confinement after being beaten. Some prisoners self-harm with razors or small knives. In one case, a prisoner had been stabbed his artery and bleeding so much before his execution, so that he was almost taken to the gallows under anesthesia and then was executed.
Iran’s rulers have been committing these crimes inside prisons for years. Every effort is made by the prison guards so that the news of the execution and even the number of those executed does not leak out of the prison, and the families of the executed are pressured not to contact the media.
Like many people, I thought, that an ‘innocent go to the gallows, but is not executed,’ but I saw many prisoners in Iranian prisons who were innocent, they did not even meet a lawyer, and they were sentenced to death in a 20-minute trial and then they were executed.
In addition to the prisoners who fell victim to poverty and discrimination and the coercion of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and looters, I saw prisoners who were executed only because of their beliefs, or criticism, or dissent. Prisoners who were executed only for the personal vote of a judge, and whose bodies were buried in complete silence and unawareness by their families and officers, and whose families were forced to deposit the rope money into the prison account before the body could be delivered.
In my opinion, the most difficult and painful moment for a prisoner is when he meets with his family in person the night before the execution. A hard and heavy meeting that lasts half an hour. This visit will remain in the minds of the mother, father, wife, and child of the prisoner for the rest of their lives.
The number of executions inside the Karaj ‘penitentiary’ increased so much that in 2016, so that the prison staff was forced to set up mechanized execution booths to execute 12 people simultaneously. Along with prisons such as Gohardasht, Karaj, Mashhad, Zahedan, Urmia, Karaj Central Prison is one of the prisons where most executions take place in absolute silence. There are heavy sentences, long prison terms, and executions mostly in halls 1, 2, and 3.
Guided Clashes Between Prisoners
One of the methods used by prison guards to control prisoners is to create fights and disputes between them. That way the head of the prison tries to harm other prisoners by hiring one prisoner, and if there is going to be an elimination, it is a sure way that leaves no trace of the wardens.
Keeping political prisoners and prisoners with ordinary crimes together next to each other and in common halls is done with the same purpose and in order to create a psychological atmosphere and harass political prisoners. In this criminal way, prisoners are tortured or even sexually and mentally abused by fellow prisoners.
In this way, the prison officials and agents did not commit any crime and their bloody hands were hidden. Of course, in most wards, political prisoners consciously, while helping and attracting ordinary prisoners, thwart the sinister plans of the Revolutionary Guards and agents.