Located in northwestern Tehran, at the foot of the Alborz Mountains, Evin Prison itself dates from 1972. It was a prison under the former Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, where opponents of his rule were kept. The prison was far smaller at that time, housing some 320 prisoners initially, later expanded to hold about 1500 inmates.11
Evin was significantly expanded under the Islamic Republic of Iran, to house approximately 15,000 prisoners.
In July 2012, the authorities moved most of the female prisoners from Evin Prison and Rajaee Shahr Prison to Gharchak Prison in Varamin, east of Tehran. The only women left at Evin now are the female political prisoners and prisoners of conscience; the Women’s Ward at Evin is reserved for them.
The Women’s Ward is under the authority of Iran’s Judiciary, which is headed by Sadegh Amoli Larijani.
The number of inmates varies, but as of this writing, the Campaign was able to con rm 25 current prisoners in the ward. As the preceding list shows, it holds journalists, activists, artists, Baha’is, Christian converts, Kurdish activists, Sunni Muslims, and members of alternative spiritual groups, as well as women alleged to be sympathizers of the Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MEK) Organization.
The Women’s Ward is variously described by current and former inmates as cramped, relatively windowless, cold and dirty.
The following description was made by one of the inmates:
Evin Prison’s Women’s Ward consists of three halls. Two of the halls are 12 square meters and the other is 18 square meters. They are connected by narrow hallways. All openings and windows towards the courtyard have been blocked. The sun’s rays can only get through the windows that are toward Evin hills. But it’s not enough, especially for inmates who prefer to stay inside because they are too sick or have bone or back pain and it is hard for them to go up and down the steps to go outside. These inmates develop additional diseases because they don’t get enough sunshine. Lack of sunlight has also helped the spread of insects. Last summer the authorities had to disinfect the ward after inmates repeatedly complained about bedbugs.
The walls around the halls are lined with metal beds. The beds, which are covered with army blankets, cause back and joint pain and exacerbate u symptoms during cold winter months.
The kitchen and wash area, located in Hall Number 1, often cause headaches and make inmates sick because of the cooking smell and the effects of the detergents. The cooking oil and detergents are of the worst quality, which makes matters worse.
The pots and pans and other basic kitchen utensils, which have been purchased by the inmates themselves, have been worn out over time and are no longer in sanitary condition. Utensils are replaced one at a time only after numerous pleas and follow-ups with the prison officials.
This testimony indicates violations of standards set by the United Nations for all Member States. The UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners state that all prison wards “shall meet all requirements of health, with due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation.”
It continues, “In all places where prisoners are required to live or work, (a) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation; (b) Article light shall be provided sufcient for the prisoners to read or work without injury to eyesight.” It adds, “All parts of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times.”