International Christian Concern (ICC), which focuses on the human rights of Christians and religious minorities, looked into the Evin Prison in Iran. The prison has a known human rights record in a country with a strict religious penal code. Shia Islam is the official religion of Iran, and the ICC says through judicial leaders, religious minorities are “targeted and denied their human right to freely practice their religion”.
Inside the prison, there were reports of serious overcrowding, insect infestations and excessive heat.
It is widely referred to as the “torture factory” and “hell on Earth” because of its harsh practices.
Reports detailed assault, intense interrogation, medical abuse and various forms of torture.
The US Treasury has now sanctioned the prison.
Evin Prison has been open for 40 years, and the ICC says the strict regime has evolved particularly since the Iranian Revolution.
In one ward, of 11 Christians imprisoned, six experienced health problems as a result of interrogation or prison conditions.
Of arrested Christians analysed where the prison is known, 60 percent have served time in Evin Prison.
They have recounted a routine denial of medical assistance, inhumane living conditions and intense scrutiny and interrogation.
More extreme cases involve electric shock and medical abuse.
A 2016 report published by the UK’s Independent Advisory Group on Country Information, said: “Torturing in Evin, like in other prisons in Iran, is a legal method to break down the political prisoners.
“Almost 71 kinds of tortures are reported by political prisoners who were personally victims of these brutal methods.”
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Everyone who is incarcerated must first pass through a quarantine ward, intended to be a temporary processing location.
However, witnesses have said the ward has over 1,000 prisoners and only two restrooms.
This is in violation of Iran’s own prison regulations, as well as international standards.
The report by the ICC indicated the prison has, following Iran’s 1979 Revolution, become notorious for housing prisoners found guilty of “slander against the Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and/or its Supreme Leader” as well as “conspiring against the Islamic Republic”.
It has been described as a “concept that enforces the Islamic regime’s extremist ideology by housing parallel forces and illegal detention centres”.
Mohammad Hossein Rafiee Fanood, a retired professor and Evin prisoner of conscience, told The Guardian in 2015: “Prisoners sleep everywhere. Even close to the washrooms, packed like sardine conserve.
“I wonder if we are in a prison or a torture chamber.”
Mr Rafiee reported there are many prisoners who fear they have HIV, hepatitis or other illnesses, but the shortage of medicine and lack of access to treatments means their diseases could be allowed to develop, and potentially spread.
The retired professor added in a letter to President Rouhani: “I am ready for death either by intelligence or prison agents, or by the poor hygienic conditions in prison.”
It is now hoped the US will intervene to further investigate issues arising in the prison and potentially take action.
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