By Pooya Stone
The women’s ward of Evin Prison is separated into two halls; one for political prisoners and one for the wives and children of male convicts.
Obviously, none of these people should be in prison at all, but the second group was released in March due to the pandemic, and the regime (reluctantly) turned the empty ward into a quarantine area for female political prisoners with suspected coronavirus at the insistence of those still incarcerated.
In the second hall, where new arrivals are held for 14 days before being transferred to the political prisoner ward, the windows are covered with metal and plastic sheets to prevent sunlight from getting in, which is bizarre because that will not help reduce transmission and could make things worse.
Of course, the regime is doing this to further torture prisoners by depriving them of natural light, not because they understand how the virus works.
Indeed, the quarantine ward is rendered almost entirely useless because the prison’s telephones sports club, and the store, where you can buy essentials at insane markups, are still used by all prisoners with no way to disinfect them prior to use because prisoners are being denied sanitizers, masks, and gloves unless they want to pay a hefty price.
Essentially, this means that prisoners wanting to buy food to make up for the dire food they are served, to keep fit by using the outdated exercise equipment, or even talk to their families, have to risk their lives to do so.
In addition, it’s become harder to access health services. Prisoners have always had to pay for their medical treatment in public hospitals, but even when that exorbitant cost has been paid by the families, the regime has still interfered to stop the treatment by refusing to transport patients.
Even those transported are quickly returned, often before receiving a full course of treatment. Since the virus outbreak, essential visits have just one more excuse to be postponed or canceled by prison authorities.
The regime is also failing to separate prisoners according to their crimes, which means that women guilty of violence or drug addiction are housed in the ward with political prisoners, which has previously led to violence against political prisoners.
Of course, despite social distancing protocols, the regime has not reduced the number of prisoners summoned to court. It’s actually increased.
Political prisoners Atena Daemi and Maryam Akbari Monfared have been summoned to court over new cases repeatedly, although they have refused to appear in court because the prison authorities that would transfer them are not wearing masks and gloves.