Reports received by Radio Farda indicate during rebellions in two prisons in the city of Ahvaz, southwestern Iran, at least three inmates were killed and several others injured.
The first disturbance took place in Sepidar prison on Monday, March 30, which led to the death of three prisoners. This apparently led to a riot in Sheyban prison on Tuesday, which led to security forces surrounding the facility and firing tear gas at the inmates.
In the past one week, disturbances have taken place in several Iranian prisons, where inmates are afraid of contracting the coronavirus amid lack of adequate medical care in correctional facilities. This is said to be the reason why prisoners also rebelled in Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s oil-rich Khuzestan province.
Reports received by Radio Farda say that three prisoners contracted the coronavirus in Sheyban prison, but they were not moved out and were being kept with the general prison population.
Meanwhile, Karin Dahimi, a human rights activist told Radio Farda the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps has surrounded the prison. In a video received by Radio Farda intermittent gunfire is heard, but it is not clear if firing is from outside into the prison or is within the compound.
Many family members of the inmates gathered outside the prison, concerned about their loved ones.
Dahimi says that ward number 5 of the prison houses political prisoners while ward 8 is where Sunni prisoners opposed to the Islamic Republic’s Shiite government are housed.
Khuzestan’s police chief has said that “a group of prisoners at Sepidar’s ward 2 intended to start a disturbance on Monday, which was controlled by the timely presence of police and security forces.” He insisted that the facility is now completely calm.
However, reports on social media say several prisoners have escaped from Speidar, and part of the prison was set on fire. The police chief claimed a few prisoners set garbage cans on fire.
Iran has released thousands of prisoners amid the coronavirus pandemic to reduce the risk of a major disaster in overcrowded correctional centers. But those prisoners who have remained behind, numbering more than 100,000 have attempted to break out from at least half a dozen prisons.