Fire, gunshots in Tehran prison holding political prisoners, dual citizen

Fire, gunshots in Tehran prison holding political prisoners, dual citizen
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DUBAI, October 15 (Reuters) – A fire broke out Saturday at Evin prison in Tehran, where most Iranian political and dual national detainees are held, and witnesses reported hearing gunshots.

State news agency IRNA said eight people were injured in the unrest after nearly a month of protests in Iran over the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Iranian Kurdish woman.

The protests posed one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, with demonstrations spreading across the country and some people chanting for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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A prison workshop was set on fire “after a fight between a large number of inmates convicted of financial crimes and theft,” the Iranian judiciary said in a statement. Tehran fire department told state media that the cause of the incident is being investigated.

The prison, located on the mountain slopes at the northern tip of the Iranian capital, houses criminal convicts as well as political prisoners.

A witness interviewed by Reuters said, “The roads leading to Evin Prison were closed to traffic. There are many ambulances here.” “We can still hear the gunshots, though.”

Another witness said that the families of prisoners gathered in front of the main prison entrance. “I can see fire and smoke. Lots of special forces,” the witness said.

A security official said calm had been restored in the prison, but the first witness said ambulance sirens could be heard and smoke continued to rise above the prison.

“People from nearby buildings are shouting ‘Death to Hamenei’ slogans from their windows,” the witness said.

Earlier on Sunday, IRNA released a video it says shows prison areas damaged by fire. Firefighters were seen soaking the debris with water to prevent the fire from re-igniting.

The prison mostly houses detainees facing security charges, including dual national Iranians. It has long been criticized by Western rights groups and was blacklisted by the US government in 2018 for “serious human rights violations”.

Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American who had been imprisoned for nearly seven years on espionage charges, which Washington dismissed as unfounded, returned to Evin on Wednesday after being granted a short leave of absence.

Other US citizens held in Evin include British environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and businessman Emad Shargi, according to human rights lawyer Saeid Dehghan.

He added that other dual nationals are being held in Evin, including Franco-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and Iranian-Swedish Ahmadreza Djalali, a doctor of disaster medicine.

Asked about the prison fire, US President Joe Biden told reporters during a campaign trip to Portland, Oregon, “The Iranian government is very repressive.”

He said he was surprised at the “courage of the people and women who took to the streets” at the recent protests and had great respect for them. β€œIt was really great,” he added. “They’re not a good group in government.”

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Twitter, “We are following the news from Evin Prison urgently. We are in contact with Switzerland as our protective force. Iran is fully responsible for the safety of our citizens, who are unjustly detained and need to be released immediately.”

Human Rights Watch accused prison officials of threatening torture and indefinite imprisonment, as well as lengthy interrogations and lack of medical care for detainees.

“No security (political) inmates have been involved in today’s conflict between inmates, and basically the ward for security prisoners is separate and far from wards convicted of thieves and financial crimes,” an unnamed official told Tasnim news agency.


The unrest in the house’s prison has since followed nearly a month of protests in Iran. Amine – a 22-year-old woman from the Kurdish part of the country – died in September. 16 while in detention for “inappropriate dress”.

Although the restlessness does not seem close to him fill the systemprotests expanded to strikes closing shops and businesses, vital energy sector and inspired acts of arrogant opposition to Iran’s religious rule.

Protesters across Iran on Saturday chanted in the streets and in universities against the country’s clergy.

In a video released by the Norway-based Iranian Human Rights organization, it was claimed that demonstrators in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, showed protests chanting “Let the priests disappear” and drivers honking their horns.

Videos released by the group showed shopkeepers striking in the northwestern Kurdish city of Saqez, Amini’s hometown. In another video on social media, high school female students were seen chanting “Women, Life, Freedom” in the streets of Sanandaj, the capital of the Kurdistan province.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the videos. Telephone and internet services in Iran were disrupted frequently over the past month, and internet watchdog NetBlocks reported a “new major outage” shortly before the protests began on Saturday.

Iranian activist news agency HRANA said in an online post that 240 protesters, 32 of them minors, were killed in the unrest. It was stated that 26 security guards were killed and approximately 8 thousand people were arrested during the protests held in 111 provinces and districts and 73 universities.

Among the casualties young girls Their deaths became a rallying call for more demonstrations demanding the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Protesters called for demonstrations in the northwestern city of Ardabil on Saturday over the death of Asra Panahi, a youth from the Azeri ethnic minority, whom activists claim was beaten to death by security forces.

Authorities denied the report, and news agencies close to the Revolutionary Guards said that his uncle said the high school student died of heart disease.

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Reporting by the Dubai office, additional reporting in Washington by Lucia Mutikani, Mike Stone and Jeff Mason, Writing Editing by Dominic Evans by Helen Popper, William Maclean, Paul Simao and Diane Craft

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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