On October 15, at 8:10 pm local time, citizens in northern Tehran reported a blaze in the Evin Prison. The report was completed with further footage of grenades, teargas, and birdshot. At the same time, the slogans “Death to Khamenei” and “Death to the dictator” could be heard in the area. Following the event, hundreds of citizens headed to the prison with videos circulating on social media showing heavy traffic on the Yadegar expressway.
— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 15, 2022
In response to the unrest at the prison, authorities dispatched dozens of anti-riot forces, Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) paramilitary Basij troops, and plainclothes agents.
The regime blocked the leading streets to the Evin prison, preventing prisoners’ families from accessing the facility. Outraged citizens torched almost all pro-regime banners on the expressway, while security forces shot teargas and birdshot at citizens’ cars, heavily damaging at least one car.
Despite the repressive measures, dozens of citizens succeeded in getting close to the prison and sounded their concerns over what happened in the jail. “Death to the dictator,” they chanted.
Inside the Evin’s Bloody Saturday
Established by the toppled Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1972, Tehran’s Evin prison is notorious for holding political dissidents, prisoners of conscience, and minority activists. Following the recent anti-regime demonstrations, the regime transferred thousands of arbitrary detainees to this jail.
Officials’ Narrative of “Evin Incident”
Following the report of a fire at the prison, the judiciary’s Mizan outlet has declared that eight inmates accused of theft have died of smoke inhalation. The outlet also announced that 61 inmates are in coherent situations. Authorities are claiming that the blaze began in an entrepreneur-sewing workshop.
The IRGC’s Fars news agency claimed that several prisoners were slain in a minefield when they tried to escape. Hours later, the Intelligence Ministry (MOIS) Mehr news agency rejected Fars’s report.
The state-run broadcasting organization (IRIB) immediately aired a report from the prison. Contrary to the news saying the blaze occurred in Ward 7, the IRIB allegedly provided its propaganda show from Ward 4.
The correspondent claimed, “The fire has been extinguished, and everything is OK. As you see, prisoners are asleep, so we don’t harass them and avoid speaking with them.”
Locals’ Narrative of Evin’s Bloody Saturday
In early reports about the blaze, locals reported that alongside the chants of ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to the dictator’, and the sound of gunfire, being heard from inside the Evin prison, several prisoners were seen on the rooftop of the building.
They stated, “We witnessed the blaze inside the prison from 8:00 pm; the sound of gunfire did not cut out. The prison’s alarm was sounded several times since morning. Several say prisoners have launched a riot inside Evin. Firefighters came with delay but did nothing.”
Citizens also reported several explosions. Experts identified that the bursts were due to shooting flashbangs; thunder flash and sound bombs are less-lethal explosive devices that temporarily disorient an enemy’s senses.
Contrary to the state media reports, video footage has shown several people intentionally igniting and spreading the fire in the prison’s yard. Officials have said the blaze was limited to a sewing workshop; but of course, they later admitted that sewing machines remained undamaged.
Former Political Prisoners’ Experience and Information
Former political prisoners have said that the burnt building is the prison’s amphitheater hall. One former political prisoner, who was arrested during the gas protests in November 2019, said, “The regime usually avoids placing prisoners in this hall except in emergency conditions such as in November 2019 or recent demonstrations.”
He stated, “I’d been held in Ward 7; the same ward was ablaze. The regime had carpeted the ward’s corridors due to the number of detainees.”
According to leaked reports, the regime had carpeted several rooms in this building, holding detainees whose interrogations had finished in this facility. The former prisoner added, “Ward 7 is Evin’s biggest ward, consisting of seven halls for holding prisoners. The regime keeps 240 to 260 inmates in the ordinary situation; however, in irregular situations such as the status quo, in addition to carpeting corridors and holding prisoners there, authorities keep up to 450 to 500 detainees in each hall.”
He further explained, “We’ve yet to know more than 20 or 30 percent of the reality. MP Ahmad Ali Reza Beigi today said, ‘Based on our information, Evin’s incident was due to what happened in Ward 209.’ We know that authorities fired teargas at Ward 209; however, the 209 is too far from the [amphitheater] hall. This hall is located beside the visiting room… When authorities were transferring us from Ward 209 to the visiting room, it took 5-6 minutes in a car.”
Iranian Dissidents’ Revelation of Evin’s Bloody Saturday
On October 18, the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), stated, “While the regime is trying to cover up the major atrocity it committed in Evin prison and does not even allow its Majles deputies to visit the prison, the scale of the crime comes to light after 48 hours.”
Further details about the tragedy, based on reports and statements by eyewitnesses who are ready to testify before international courts and authorities, are as follows:
- Thirty to 40 prisoners were killed during the attack on Evin Prison, by the IRGC Special Force guarding the Supreme Leader (NOPO). Their names and details are recorded in Evin Hospital. Most of those killed were from Ward 7.
- The attack on the prisoners was planned in advance. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s son, Mehdi, a prisoner in Evin who was on leave, was told not to return to the prison. Akbar Tabari, the deputy to then-Judiciary Chief Sadegh Amoli Larijani, and Mohammad Ali Najafi, the former Minister and Mayor of Tehran, who are both prisoners in Evin, were transferred to Evin medical center before the attack for their safety.
- The savage guards (NOPO) threw some prisoners down from the roof. They targeted the prisoners in the courtyard with live ammunition from the roof. One of the prisoners watching from behind a window was shot on the side.
- NOPO attacked Ward 8, where political prisoners are kept with live ammunition and shotguns, and fired tear gas to the point of suffocation. In the courtyard of Ward 8, blood was spilled like a slaughterhouse such that it could not be cleaned up until 24 hours later.
- In Ward 8, some prisoners and informants were spying against the prisoners, cooperating with the suppressive forces, and guiding them. After shooting and firing tear gas, the special unit forces made the prisoners lie down in the prison yard and beat them to the point of death. The brutal beating continued until the morning when they extensively used stun guns to beat the prisoners.
- The IRGC Colonel Mahmoudi, the commander of the prison protection unit, went beyond brutality, and even when the special unit told him not to hit the prisoners, he beat them on the head with a baton. His blows on the head of a political prisoner caused his eyes to bleed. Another ruthless criminal was a corrections officer by the name of Tavakoli.
- They transferred 51 prisoners from Ward 8; a prisoner with five bullets in his body was also taken in the same condition. Some of the prisoners were taken to Gohardasht prison, but the location of the rest is unknown.
- They fired tear gas inside the women’s Ward and, at the same time, locked the doors of the Ward so those female prisoners could not react to save themselves.
- Had the people of Tehran not rushed towards Evin prison on Saturday night, many more prisoners would have been killed. Even now, a human disaster will occur if Evin remains locked up and no one visits the prison.
According to its expanded domestic network of Resistance Units, the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) revealed that a rebellion inside the most controlled center of torture, execution, and suffocation in Iran, which was completely tied with the nationwide protests, is another indication of the progress and expansion of the popular uprising. Iranians all over the country are overcoming fear and terror.
Security forces resorted to a significant mobilization plan to quell the protest inside the prison, showing the importance and danger of this uprising for the regime.
On the other hand, the solidarity of the people of Tehran and the rapid reaction by rushing toward the prison and fighting with the repressive forces shows a growing unity among the people that have been building up during the uprising.
Using all means of propaganda, the regime has tried to downplay the incident. State officials claim that a fight erupted among inmates over financial charges, which shows the matter’s sensitivity.
The NCRI’s President-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi has since urged the United Nations, the U.N. High Commissioner, the Human Rights Council, along with other human rights defenders, to urgently send an international fact-finding mission to Evin prison and examine the traces of crimes against humanity there in the presence of a representative from the Iranian Resistance. If the clerical regime is telling the truth that they have not committed any crimes, they should accede to this fact-finding mission.