By Jubin Katiraie
A number of prisoners of conscience were beaten and attacked in Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj. The guards attacked the Sunni prisoners because they dared to protest against the horrific conditions that they have been enduring in prison. They were also speaking out about the denial of essential medical treatment.
The attacks happened on Tuesday 27th August and guards used truncheons to beat the prisoners. The prisoners were also tortured with electric shocks.
In July, the month before the attack, the prisoners started a hunger strike in protest against their treatment and the vile abuse of power by the authorities. Reports indicate that there were 35 Sunni political prisoners that started a hunger strike.
It started on 15th July and the prisoners made it clear that they were not happy with the very small spaces in which they are allowed to exist, as well as the lack of clean air and access to sunlight. They also said that they are unable to contact their families by telephone and they have been prevented from going outside to get fresh air and exercise.
The prisoners, although many are now in solitary confinement since the attack at the end of August, were house in Hall 36 of Ward 10 of the prison. Almost 40 prisoners of conscience and political prisoners are forced to remain in two small rooms. All of these people have access to one single toilet and bathroom.
During the summer when temperatures can get quite high, the prisoners face even more suffering. Physically the conditions are tougher than usual in summer, but the sanitary concerns are even more worrying.
To add to their physical struggles, the inmates are denied exercise and contact with their families, creating a psychological burden that has a major impact on their wellbeing. They have no space for personal effects and barely have enough room to lie down. Certainly not comfortable.
Raja’i Shahr Prison, also known as Gohardasht Prison, is notorious for its abuse of inmates. Located just outside the country’s capital, the prison has been at the center of countless allegations of abuse, mistreatment, and torture.
Ever since the Islamic Revolution, the prison has housed, and executed, many political prisoners, dissidents, prisoners of conscience and so on.
The treatment of prisoners of conscience in the country is shocking and many international human rights organizations have drawn attention to the situation in general, but also to specific cases.
For example, at the beginning of last month, Amnesty International drew attention to the case of Peyman Mirzazadeh – a prisoner of conscience and a Kurdish singer. He was flogged a hundred times and was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted of “drinking alcohol” and “insulting Islamic sanctities”.
Amnesty International said that Mirzazadeh’s treatment is proof that the Iranian justice system “legalizes brutality”. Amnesty International said: “There can be no justification for carrying out flogging, which amounts to torture and is, therefore, a crime under international law. As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran is legally obliged to abolish the practice, as well as other forms of corporal punishment such as amputations and blinding.”