Evin Prison: where is notorious prison, why is it infamous, when did fire start and what happened?
A protest broke out on the street soon afterwards, with many chanting “Death to the Dictator!”
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A blaze at a notorious jail housing political prisoners and anti-government activists in Iran’s capital killed four inmates, the country’s judiciary said on Sunday.
Online videos and local media also reported gunshots, as nationwide protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody entered a fifth week. Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing a senior security official, reported there were clashes at Evin Prison between inmates in one ward and jail personnel.
The official said prisoners set fire to a warehouse full of uniforms, which caused the blaze. He said the “rioters” were separated from the other inmates to de-escalate the conflict. They then added that the “situation is completely under control” and that firefighters were extinguishing the flames.
Where is Evin Prison?
The notorious jail is located in the Evin suburb of Tehran, the capital of Iran. It was built in 1972 and houses political prisoners.
It is located at the foot of the Alborz mountains and was built on the former home of Ziaeddin Tabatabaee, who briefly served as prime minister in the 1920s. Evin Prison has an estimated capacity of 1,500.
Why is Evin Prison infamous?
Since being built in 1972, it has become notorious for being the primary site for the housing of political prisoners. It has served this perhaps since before and after the Islamic Revolution (1978-1979).
It has a purpose-built wing with the nickname “Evin University” due to the number of students and intellectuals house in it. Evin Prison has been accused of being the site of “serious human rights abuses” in particular against government critics and dissidents. There have been allegations of rape and torture.
When was the fire and what happened?
A blaze at a notorious jail housing political prisoners and anti-government activists in Iran’s capital killed four inmates, the country’s judiciary said on Sunday. Flames and smoke rising from Tehran’s Evin Prison had been widely visible on Saturday evening, as nationwide anti-government protests triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody entered a fifth week.
In online videos, gunshots and explosions could be heard in the area of the prison. The blaze was extinguished after several hours and no detainees escaped, state media said.
They said the fire broke out after a fight between prisoners, in an apparent attempt to distance the events there from the ongoing protests. Hundreds are being held at Evin, where human rights groups have reported repeated abuses of prisoners.
State media originally reported that nine people were injured but the judiciary website Mizan.news said on Sunday that four inmates died of smoke inhalation and 61 others were injured.It said all four who died were in prison on robbery convictions.
Ten inmates were admitted to hospital, four of them in a serious condition, Mizan reported. It said some prisoners had tried to escape but failed.
Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi said that “peace” had returned to the prison and that the unrest was not related to the protests which have been sweeping the country. IRNA later reported that nine people had been injured, without elaborating. It published video showing burnt debris scattered around a building, with firefighters hosing down the embers.
Footage of the fire circulated online. Videos showed shots ringing out as plumes of smoke rose into the sky amid the sound of an alarm. A protest broke out on the street soon afterwards, with many chanting “Death to the Dictator!” — a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – and burning tyres, circulating videos showed.
Witnesses said police blocked roads and highways to Evin prison and that at least three strong explosions were heard coming from the area. Traffic was heavy along major motorways near the prison, which is in the north of the capital, and many people honked to show their solidarity with protests.
Riot police were seen riding on motorbikes towards the facility, as were ambulances and fire engines. Witnesses reported that the internet was blocked in the area. The US-based Centre for Human Rights in Iran reported that an “armed conflict” broke out within the prison walls. It said shots were first heard in Ward 7 of the prison. This account could not immediately be corroborated.
Why are there protests in Iran?
The prison fire occurred as protesters intensified anti-government demonstrations along main streets and at universities in some cities across Iran on Saturday. Human rights monitors reported hundreds dead, including children, as the movement concluded its fourth week.
Demonstrators also chanted “Down with the Dictator” on the streets of Ardabil in the country’s north-west. Students rallied outside universities in Kermanshah, Rasht and Tehran, according to videos on social media.
In the city of Sanandaj, a hotspot for demonstrations in the northern Kurdish region, school girls chanted “Woman, life, freedom” down a central street. The protests erupted after public outrage over the death Ms Amini following her arrest by Iran’s morality police in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
Iran’s government insists she was not mistreated in police custody, but her family says her body showed bruises and other signs of beating after she was detained. At least 233 protesters have been killed since demonstrations swept Iran on 17 September, according to US-based rights monitor HRANA. The group said 32 among the dead were below the age of 18.
Iranian authorities have alleged without providing evidence that the unrest is a Western plot, trying to play down the demonstrations. Public anger in Iran has coalesced around Ms Amini’s death, prompting girls and women to remove their mandatory headscarves on the street in a show of solidarity.
Other segments of society, including oil workers, have also joined the movement, becoming one of the greatest challenges to Iran’s theocracy since the country’s 2009 Green Movement. Riots have also broken out in prisons, with clashes reported between inmates and guards in Lakan prison in the northern province of Gilan recently.