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Iran: Prison fire kills eight, injures dozens as protesters press on

The fire at Iran’s Evin prison that broke out late on Saturday consumed eight lives and injured dozens more, according to data provided by state media, as Iranians continue protests triggered by a woman’s death in police custody.

Death toll of Iranian regime’s clampdown on protesters hits 233: NGO

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The regime’s explanation of the fire is that a prison workshop was set on fire “after a fight among a number of prisoners convicted of financial crimes and theft”. This should be contrasted with the fact that detainees facing security charges, including Iranians with dual nationalities, are held prisoner in Evin.

The infamous Evin prison in Tehran is on fire. Gunfire heard. This is big. pic.twitter.com/oC0coITH6B

— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) October 15, 2022

Families of some political detainees called on the authorities via social media to ensure the safety of their relatives at Evin prison, which in 2018 was blacklisted by the US government for “serious human rights abuses”.

State television aired a video earlier showing that, apparently, calm had returned to the facility. In footage aired on state television by the prison hours later, firefighters were seen inspecting a workshop with fire damage to the roof. Inmates asleep in their wards were also shown.

Women are waving the hijab in the air near Evin prison pic.twitter.com/k26Nc9Hjek

— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) October 15, 2022

Relatives of prisoners held in the women’s section had gathered at the prison for routine visiting hours, human rights activist Atena Daemi said, adding that, nevertheless, the authorities had denied them access. Relatives were told that the prisoners were “fine, but the phones are broken”, according to Ms Daemi. She later tweeted that some women prisoners had called their families regardless.

a lot of innocent people (political prisoners) held in iran’s evin prison. now on fire, with gunshots heard. pic.twitter.com/5Gpslox0I3

— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) October 15, 2022

One of the inmates, American-Iranian Siamak Namazi who has been imprisoned for nearly seven years on espionage-related charges rejected by Washington as unfounded, had contacted his relatives, as reported by his lawyer. Mr Namazi has been detained in Iran since October 13, 2015. In October 2016, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

I am pleased to report that #SiamakNamazi has now spoken to his family. He is safe and has been moved to a secure area of Evin Prison. We have no further details at this time. @FreeTheNamazis.

— Jared Genser (@JaredGenser) October 16, 2022

“Siamak Namazi has now spoken to his family. He is safe and has been moved to a secure area of Evin Prison. We have no further details,” lawyer Jared Genser said in a tweet.

Iranian journalist Niloofar Hamedi who broke news on Mahsa Amini pays heavy price. She took a photo of #Mahsa_Amini parents hugging each other in a Tehran hospital where their daughter was lying in a coma, and posted it on Twitter.https://t.co/YAvc0XD6Hv pic.twitter.com/NcFmLfFnKq

— Negar Mortazavi نگار مرتضوی (@NegarMortazavi) October 12, 2022

Both US hostages in Evin prison, Emad Shargi and Siamak Namazi, have been in touch with their families. At a minimum it behooves the regime to release them on furlough given their safety can’t be ensured in Evin. This also applies to other foreign hostages in Evin. pic.twitter.com/MuezDLikqc

— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) October 16, 2022

Niloofar Hamedi, who broke the news of Amini’s hospitalisation and was arrested last month, managed to contact her husband, who wrote about it on Twitter on Sunday.

People are heading towards Evin prison in Tehran after reports of fire and explosion in Evin.
This is another sign that the Islamic Republic is losing control.

Evin is where the Islamic Republic holds many political prisoners.
The lives of prisoners are in danger#MahsaAmini pic.twitter.com/Skt1vwp6zq

— Masih Alinejad ��️ (@AlinejadMasih) October 15, 2022

Iran ready to swap prisoners, urges US to free jailed Iranians: report

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Protests continue

The protests spilt over to universities on Sunday, including in the cities of Tabriz and Rasht. They were met with a heavy deployment of riot police. “Iran has turned into a big prison. Evin prison has become a slaughterhouse,” students at a Tehran university were seen chanting.

#Tabriz – video shows moral police and Basij paramilitary forces brutally arrest a woman in Tabriz #Mahsa__Amini #مهسا_امينی #ژینا_ئەمینی #IranProtests2022 pic.twitter.com/LEpHzgeGHt

— Afshin Ismaeli (@Afshin_Ismaeli) October 14, 2022

Reuters, who reported on the development, could not independently verify the footage.

University students across Iran continue their quest, Iran Revolution, for the 31st day.
Rasht Med Co.:”They kept killing & shooting, they set fire to #EvinPrison!”
Tehran Tech Co.:”Another Rex Cinema incident, people rise up, enough is enough”…
Karaj,…#مهسا_امینی#IranTruth pic.twitter.com/KsElYOVsvh

— IranTrue (@iran_true) October 16, 2022

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody was the last straw for Iranians from various milieus of the social spectrum. Arrested in Teheran on September 13 by the Iranian morality police for allegedly violating Iran’s stringent clothing rules that impose hijab- or headscarf-wearing on women, her mistreatment and death at the hands of the police sparked one of the boldest challenges to Iran’s clerical rulers since the 1979 revolution, with protesters calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, even if the unrest does not seem close to toppling the system.

The regime bore down heavily on the protests bringing about the death of at least 240 protesters, including 32 minors. As many as 111 cities and towns have seen more than 8,000 people arrested, according to data provided on Saturday by the Iranian activist news agency HRANA.

#IranRevolution2022—Day 31
Gilan, N #Iran—”We don’t need watchers; join us,” University students chant in Rasht.#MahsaAmini�� pic.twitter.com/XGNBi8ja8R

— Iran News Update (@IranNewsUpdate1) October 16, 2022

Tehran published no death toll but pointed the finger instead at domestic and foreign enemies while denying that its security forces have killed protesters. Instead, state media said on Saturday at least 26 members of the security forces had been killed by “rioters”.

The heavy-handed handling of the protests has elicited international outrage and condemnations with the US, Canada and some European countries imposing sanctions on Iranian officials and organisations they accuse of complicity.

The Iranian government was “so oppressive”, US President Joe Biden told reporters in Portland, Oregon, during a campaign trip on Saturday. He felt surprised by the courage of the Iranian protesters.

But Iran’s foreign ministry interpreted President Biden’s comment as meddling in Tehran’s state matters by showing support for the anti-government protests.

For its part, France said on Sunday it was following the situation at Evin prison with the utmost attention, adding that “ several French nationals are being arbitrarily detained” there.

Having repeated a call for the immediate release of Evin prisoners, a French foreign ministry spokesperson said “France once again reminds the Iranian authorities that they are responsible for the safety and health of our compatriots detained in Iran.”


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