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Iran Political Prisoners Warn Authorities About COVID Breakout In Prison

Iran -- Fashafuyeh Prison or as it is officially called the "Penitentiary complex in Great Tehran", is Tehran Central Prison.
Iran -- Fashafuyeh Prison or as it is officially called the "Penitentiary complex in Great Tehran", is Tehran Central Prison.

In an open letter, sixty political prisoners warned on Sunday about a COVID-19 breakout in several wards of Fashafuyeh Prison of Tehran.

In their letter, addressed to the Prosecutor of Tehran, the signatories said that the coronavirus has spread through several wards of one of the prison halls, and that the threat of illness is causing great anxiety to their families.

The letter also points out that the presiding solicitor-general of Fashafuyeh Prison has not visited to hear prisoners' complaints and investigate the situation, despite their repeated requests for his visit.

Fashafuyeh Prison, which was originally built to hold drug-related criminals, is located 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of Tehran. The prison has a reputation for violence among prisoners, with recent incidents including the fatal stabbing of June Alireza Shirmohammadali, a 21-year-old political prisoner who was serving an eight-year sentence in Fashafuyeh for "insulting the Supreme Leader" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic," who was killed by two prisoners serving time for violent crimes.

While Fashafuyeh was originally established to isolate serious drug offenders from other prison populations, political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience are also sent to Fashafuyeh as additional punishment for refusing to cooperate with authorities, or as a means to pressure them and their families.

According to the Campaign to Defense of Political and Civil Prisoners, authorities sent more than 300 protesters to Fashafuyeh following nationwide protests in November 2019.

Iranian authorities have freed tens of thousands of ordinary prisoners since Iran's coronavirus outbreak began in February, but have refused to grant furlough to political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience.

Human rights activists have reported several cases of coronavirus among political prisoners, including the activist Narges Mohammadi and eleven others from the general population of Zanjan Prison where she is held.

Based on the bylaws of the Iranian Prisons Organization, political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be held in separate facilities and away from prisoners serving sentences for other reasons. Many, including Mohammadi, however, are kept with criminals and away from other political prisoners.