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Overcrowded Prisons And Child Prisoners In Wake Of Iran Protests

Detainess of November protests in Tehran's Fashafouyeh prison, November 23, 2019

Two weeks after the deadliest anti-regime protests in the four-decade history of the Islamic Republic, there are several reports on the "grave condition" of detained protesters, especially underage and child prisoners.

Citing "informed sources" in Sanandaj, the Kurdistan Human Rights Network KHRN reported that more than 100 of the detained protesters are held under grueling conditions in a military base run by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC). There are also several underage and schoolchildren among the detainees; the sources told KHRN.

Furthermore, the Kurdish human rights organization, Hengaw, reported that the Islamic Republic intelligence agents detained three under-eighteen-year-old brothers in Kermanshah, western Iran. The family of the detainees have no information about the condition and whereabouts of their loved ones, Hengaw said. The brothers have been identified as Mohammad Naderi's sons, fourteen-year-old Sajjad, sixteen-year-old Parham, and eighteen-year-old Pouria Naderi.

In the meantime, the police chief of the province of Kermanshah, IRGC commander Ali Akbar Javidan maintained that his forces had arrested three seventeen to 27-year-old suspects in the city of Javanrood.

Several the detainees in the oil-rich province of Khuzestan, southwest Iran, are also schoolchildren and teenagers.

Speaking to Radio Farda, a human rights activist, Katim Dahimi, asserted that the Islamic Republic security forces had arrested many teenagers, allegedly for participating in the recent demonstrations.

"An unknown number of the detainees were transferred to prisons in the province of Yazd, central Iran," Dahimi maintained, adding, "transferring prisoners to hundreds of kilometers away, could indicate a lack of space in Khuzestan to hold suspects behind bars."

People arrested in November protests in Iran go through the painful process of forced confessions and repentance.
People arrested in November protests in Iran go through the painful process of forced confessions and repentance.

According to Dahimi, security forces have also transferred an unknown number of the detainees from the central prison, the police, and the IRGC detention centers in the capital city of the province Ahvaz. Nevertheless, there was no information about the whereabouts of those transferred, Dahimi said.

The protests were triggered by an overnight three-fold increase in gasoline prices on Friday, November 15, but soon turned into widespread unrest against the clergy-dominated establishment.

Earlier, there were reports on the dire condition of detainees in Tehran's notorious prison, Fashafouyeh.

The chairman of Shahr-e Rey city council, Hassan Khalilabadi, had disclosed on Monday, November 25, that Fashafouyeh prison, or the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary (GTCP) is overcrowded.

However, the Director-General of Prisons in the province of Tehran, Heshmatollah Hayat al-Ghayb, dismissed Khalilabadi's comment as "false" and "unfounded."

Nevertheless, many former inmates at GTCP have repeatedly revealed the unbearable condition of the prisoners in the notorious detention center.

Speaking to Radio Farda, lawyer and a former parliament member, Qassem Sholeh Sa'di divulged that GTCP had no clean and drinkable water for most of the day, and water for the prisoners was saved in dirty garbage cans.

Sho'leh Sa'di, who has experienced being a prisoner in the GTCP, also revealed that the detention center's walls are infested with bed-bugs.

According to the former MP, even before the recent protests the prison was overcrowded and many of them were forced to sleep in the corridors.

The November protests were the bloodiest in the 41-year history of the Islamic Republic. Amnesty International has confirmed that security forces killed at least 161 people but says the real toll is much higher. Others have reported close to 400 killed but the government has refused to announce the death toll.