Iran’s State Prisons and Security and Corrective Measures Organization, which is under the supervision of the Judiciary, has distributed a new guideline to all sectors under its control. This new order claims that according to new laws all the prisons are obligated to observe and consider the rights of the prisoners.
This directive has prohibited “all kinds of psychological and physical persecution of the prisoners and detained defendants.”
This directive, which was publicized by the media center of the Judiciary, emphasized that actions like taking fingerprints from the prisoners or naked inspections must be restricted to special cases, while seriously sick and injured prisoners should not be accepted at the prisons.
It added that the defendants should have access to a phone and have the right to call their families and lawyers within 48 hours of their detention.
Youths must also be separated from adult prisoners, and insulting prisoners or the use of handcuffs inside the prison is prohibited unless some special cases warrant them.
There is no doubt that the decision to issue the directive was a response to the massive pressure on the Iranian regime because of its human rights violations. This assessment is particularly reinforced as news of the death of some of the prisoners due to torture and mistreatment by prison officials, or the lack of treatment for sick prisoners continues to leak.
Iran’s prisons are scenes of systematic abuse, torture, executions, insults, humiliation, and rape on a daily basis.
A review of the events leading to the deaths of some prisoners in less than a year illustrates the appalling reality of Iranian prisons:
February 16, 2021: Behnam Mahjoubi; a Darvish prisoner arrested after the Golestan protests, died in prison. He could not cope with imprisonment due to his illness but was arrested and imprisoned regardless. On February 13, 2021, he was taken to hospital for the second time after falling into a coma due to drug poisoning in prison, and the news of his death was confirmed on February 21, 2021.
Behnam Mahjoubi had been sentenced to two years by Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran. Mahjoubi had said in an audio file from prison in November 2020, ‘I am convinced that the security agents intend to kill me.’
June 7, 2021: Sasan Nik Nafs; A political prisoner in the Greater Tehran Prison in Fashafoyeh, Nik Nafs died after he was transferred to the Greater Tehran Prison Medical Center due to his deteriorating health condition and negligence by the authorities.
September 2, 2021: Hadi Atazadeh; This prisoner died in the city of Ahar after being flogged. Regime’s officials denied the reports.
September 20, 2021, Shahin Naseri; He exposed the torture of wrestling champion Navid Afkari and was killed in his cell. His death was first made public by his imprisoned friends. Regime’s officials were later forced to admit it.
September 23, 2021, Amir Hossein Hatami; This prisoner from Ilam was killed in the Greater Tehran Prison as a result of beatings and torture by the regime’s prison officers. This 22-year-old prisoner was a resident of Sirvan in Ilam province. Following his death, his family and friends staged a large protest.
January 1, 2022, Adel Kianpour; The political prisoner died in Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz after a week of hunger strike without receiving medical treatment, in protest of being deprived of the right to a fair trial.
January 8, 2022, Baktash Abtin; An Iranian poet and filmmaker and a member of the Writers’ Association of Iran, died in Evin Prison due to lack of timely treatment and hospitalization.
January 10, 2022, Omid Mousavi; A detainee who was shot during the November 2019 protests and was later arrested and tortured for a long time. He was imprisoned for 15 months in the Greater Tehran Prison. Omid died of a heart attack at the age of 27.
We also should not forget that in recent months, a video was released from Evin Prison showing the mistreatment and beating of prisoners.
Following the release of the disturbing video footage, 28 political prisoners in Greater Tehran Prison issued a joint statement saying that “what is shown in these films in the form of torture, humiliation, and naked and physical harassment is only part of the visible reality of torture against prisoners and their families in Iran. But other forms of torture are not recorded by any cameras.”
This directive also emphasized that “Defendants of political and press crimes, defendants of financial (legal) crimes and persons under the age of eighteen, are not required to wear uniforms in prison.” It also set the maximum days of solitary confinement to between 10 and 15 days.
But the reality in Iran’s prisons is something else. According to a report published on October 23, 2021, by Kurdistan Human Rights Network, Kurdish political activists in IRGC-affiliated prisons have routinely faced torture such as attaching weights to their testicles, hanging from the ceiling for long hours, artificial executions, and threats of rape against their spouses and other family members.
This directive is like regime founder Khomeini’s 8-article decree in 1982, which was carried out after the execution of thousands of political prisoners and brutal killings on the streets.
In that order, Khomeini apparently restrained some of the brutal behavior of his Revolutionary Guards. But the 8-article decree exempted political prisoners and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). This means that taking the lives and properties of the MEK were deemed entirely permissible by the regime.