Middle East

Iran Detains Political Prisoners Amid Chinese Coronavirus Spread

The Chinese coronavirus and its mismanagement by the Iranian regime are victimizing more and more people every day. According to reports posted by the Iranian opposition, more than 3300 have lost their lives to the virus so far, second only to China. The situation of the prisons and prisoners in Iran is deplorably catastrophic, and Tehran officials continue to close their eyes and ignore the tragedy about to happen.

Prisons in Iran are overcrowded, at maximum capacity. These prisons are void of many amenities including basic sanitation, saltwater, warm water, disinfectants, proper prisoner allocations, and ventilation. If only one prisoner carries the virus, an irreparable catastrophe is going to happen and the news coming out of the prisons is indicative of such a tragedy taking place right now.

In a letter to the regime’s judiciary, the families of several political prisoners demanded temporary release in order to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. Earlier, the chief of the regime’s judiciary system announced that political prisoners accused of “acting against national security” and sentenced to more than 5 years in prison are going to be denied temporary release. His decision puts the lives of many in peril and in a way, the regime’s judiciary chief is prescribing death by Chinese coronavirus for political prisoners.

Javaid Rehman, UN Special Rapporteur in Geneva

The U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran said on Tuesday that he had asked the country to release all prisoners temporarily, saying that it is “unfortunate and disturbing” to have political prisoners detained amid the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

According to a human rights activist in the city of Mashhad, on March 8, 2020, the political prisoners of Vakilabad Prison were transferred to another ward where suspected infected prisoners were held. The prisoners who were subjected to the transfer were all healthy.  In a message sent from the prison, the transferees announced that prison authorities had long wanted to get rid of them and now they are trying to do this with exposing them to Chinese coronavirus; this is an inhumane act.

In another letter written by the families of a number of political prisoners held in solitary confinement in Vakilabad prison, they stated, “Today is the 211th day that Mr. Hashim Khastar, a representative of Iranian teachers and his companions are imprisoned. They have dedicated their bodies and lives for justice and freedom. Those who have transferred to Vakilabad prison on February 12, 2020, were initially quarantined for ten days. Later, due to the outbreak of Chinese coronavirus, inmate visits were canceled. The inmates themselves decided to cancel their own cabin visits due to inmate congestion, lack of hygiene and risk of contamination. The prisoners opted to do so visiting families will not be affected. The prisoners could have phone calls, but were taken away from them because they had objected to the prison situation and were being punished for doing so. Now, with the spread of the Chinese coronavirus in Iran, we are increasingly concerned about the prisoners and demand their immediate release.”

According to the latest news, with the death of at least two prisoners in Tehran and Orumiyeh prisons with suspected coronary disease, thousands of prisoners held in Iran’s prisons have been exposed to Chinese coronavirus. According to the human rights website Hrana, ”So far, 16 suspected Chinese coronavirus inmates have been transferred from Urmia prison to an out-of-prison hospital.” Hrana added, “In Tehran Grand Prison, four inmates have been quarantined.”

Meanwhile, another human rights organization, Henegav reported, ”In Orumiyeh prison, an inmate suspected of Chinese coronavirus was transferred to a medical center on Thursday, February 28 after his health condition deteriorated. He later died.”

The people of Iran are going through tough times these days. The authorities of the regime in Iran are busy fabricating the facts and hide the true expanse of the tragedy; no one is spared. The people of Iran, alongside with the political prisoners, are left with one option — take matters in their own hands and stop leaning to a government that is skillful in destructing lives and ruining future hopes. The youth are not only fighting against the Chinese coronavirus but also against the mullah’s regime. The people are helping each other by distributing masks, disinfectants, and other necessities. Nurses, doctors, and hospital staff are gradually taking control of treatment facilities and ambulances. Their incredible planning and courage have provided care for those affected in many ways and in many areas. The regime had hoped the spread of the Chinese coronavirus would dampen the protests in different cities in Iran; but on the contrary, the people are more dissatisfied than before, and their dismay is bad news for the Iranian regime. 

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