Human rights activists say that around 20 prisoners were killed on March 30 and 31 during disturbances in two prisons in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province.
The commander of police in Khuzestan has denied any deaths but families of prisoners gathered on April 1 outside Sheyban correctional facility.
Earlier, Radio Farda had received reports about three deaths in Sepidar, another prison in Ahvaz, but Karin Dahimi, a human rights activist says, “Eighteen people in Sepidar prison were killed March 30 when security forces opened direct fire at prisoners and also as a result of a blaze”, which started during a rebellion by inmates.
There are also reports of several prisoners killed in Sheyban prison on March 31.
A video received by Radio Farda yesterday showed gunfire around one of the prisons.
The Ahvaz Human Rights Organization (AHRO) based abroad also confirms several casualties as a result of security forces opening fire on prisoners.
There have been several prison riots recently in Iran, as inmates fear contracting the deadly coronavirus Covid-19 disease and want to be released.
Reports also say security forces have transferred several political prisoners to an unknown location. Khuzestan is one Iran’s most restless provinces, where people have many grievances. A sizeable Arab population calls the province home.
AHRO says 220 inmates received burns during the disturbance at Sheyban prison. The provincial police chief claims all prisoners are safe.
Iran’s Judiciary says they have temporarily freed 100,000 prisoners in recent weeks because of the pandemic, but there are still an equal number behind bars.
Amnesty International last week called on Iran to free all political prisoners due to the acute danger of the coronavirus spreading to crowded and substandard prisons.