Political Prisoners in Rajaee Shahr Subjected to Inhumane Living Conditions as Punishment For Hunger Strike
Inmates in the ward for political prisoners in Iran’s Rajaee Shahr Prison continue to be punished seven months after many of them went on hunger strike to protest their forced move to a high-security ward.
Prison officials have denied them adequate heating during the cold winter months and prevented them from acquiring their own heating equipment, a source with information from inside the prison told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on February 28, 2018.
They are not allowed to use the phone and they have been prevented from purchasing heating equipment and warm clothing. Their personal belongings have also been taken from them.
“The authorities banned telephone access a long time ago, even though the other prisoners continue to have access,” said the source who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Continued the source: “Except for a couple of hours of fresh air during the day, the ward’s main gate is closed and all the gaps in the walls and windows have been covered to prevent contact between the political prisoners and the ordinary prisoners and the whole ward is supposed to be heated by an old fan that hardly works in this cold weather. Worst of all, the authorities won’t allow the prisoners to buy heaters or even warm blankets and clothes from outside the prison. Yet prisoners who have committed violent crimes are able to easily use the right to buy these things.”
The source continued: “Because of the cold and humidity, more than half of the prisoners in the ward are always sick with coughs and headaches. When they finally get a chance to go to the clinic after waiting for a month, they get a very quick check-up and are told that headaches and colds are normal during winter and they just have to deal with it until the weather gets warmer.”
Many inmates at the prison, located in the city of Karaj west of Tehran, began a hunger strike last summer after more than 50 political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were transferred without prior notice from Ward 12 to the security-enhanced Ward 10 on July 30, 2017.
One of their demands at the time was the return of their personal belongings, such as clothes, medicines and appliances that they were forced to leave behind when prison guards suddenly moved them.
“Their personal belongings were worth millions of tomans (thousands of US dollars) but none of it was given back to them,” the source told CHRI. “Sometimes the authorities say the stuff was lost, sometimes they say it was destroyed but it’s obvious they stole it and no one has asked them what happened.”
“The prisoners have protested but it made no difference,” added the source. “It just made their lives worse.”