March 30, 2020
Iran’s official government news agency IRNA has reported “clashes” in Hamedan prison, following reports of unrest in other prisons in recent days.
The report did not provide much detail about the “unrest” in the Hamedan prison, in Western Iran, except saying there were “clashes between prisoners” and authorities in the province bringing back calm in the facility.
IRNA insisted, “Based on information received, the situation in Hamedan prison is under control”, and officials have promised to provide more information on Sunday.
It is not clear if the unrest happened late Saturday or early Sunday and IRNA says an investigation is under way if any prisoners escaped.
Eighty prisoners escaped from a prison in Saqqez on March 27, presumably to avoid the coronavirus epidemic in prison conditions.
On Thursday, there were also reports of unrest and shooting in the prison of Tabriz, the capital city of East Azarbaijan Province. Prison authorities, however, denied the reports.
Meanwhile, Iran Human Rights Watch has reported that prisoners first refused food in protest to not being allowed to go on furlough and then set their blankets on fire which the guards stopped by firing weapons. There have been reports of similar incidents in the prisons of Aligudarz and Fashafouyeh since the outbreak of coronavirus.
Iran’s human rights activists say all non-violent prisoners should be allowed to go on furlough. Iranian prisons are overcrowded, and sanitary and healthcare facilities are not adequate even at ordinary times.
In a letter addressed to Iran’s Chief Justice Ebrahim Raeesi on March 26 Amnesty International said Iranian authorities must “immediately and unconditionally” release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave concerns over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons.