Food With “Rodent Feces” Served to Political Prisoners in Iran’s Great Tehran Penitentiary
The food served at the Great Tehran Penitentiary (GTP) is unsanitary and has been found to contain rodent feces, making some prisoners sick, the wife of a political prisoner held there told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).
On December 26, 2018, Mohammad Sharifi Moghaddam, a Sufi Muslim dervish of the persecuted Gonabadi order who is being held in the facility’s security wing, received medical attention hours after suffering food poisoning, his wife, Faezeh Abdipour, told CHRI.
“The food and sanitary conditions at the GTP are very bad,” she said. “Unlike other parts of the prison, the security wing [designated for political prisoners] lacks cooking facilities [where prisoners can cook for themselves] and therefore inmates have no choice but to eat food prepared by the prison staff every day,” she said.
“There are lots of mice and bugs around and on many occasions, rodent feces have been seen in the food,” she added.
Abdipour continued: “These prisoners are not only denied basic needs but also can’t receive medical services without difficulty. Mohammad had to talk to the authorities for a long time before he was given permission to go to the prison clinic.”
Inmates in the security wing, controlled by prison staff, are also forced to purchase bottled water at inflated prices because the facility lacks clean piped water, she added.
Sharifi Moghaddam was one of eight Sufi Muslims held in solitary confinement for 105 days before being moved to the security wing’s public ward on December 13, 2018, his wife told CHRI. Since then, the prisoners have been allowed to make phone calls to their families but have not been allowed to receive visitors.
They were put in solitary confinement as punishment for taking part in a sit-in on August 29, 2018, to demand the release of female Sufi inmates held at Gharchak Prison, located south of Tehran.
“The families have asked judicial authorities many times to move the prisoners to another wing but so far, there has been no response,” Abdipour said.
With an official capacity of 15,000 inmates, the GTP, located in Tehran Province’s Fashafouyeh district, 20 miles southeast of Tehran, is the largest detention facility in the country.
Known for its “inhumane” living conditions, the prison was built in 2015 primarily for holding suspects and inmates convicted of drug-related offenses but the judiciary has also used it to incarcerate activists and dissidents.
“All the inmates, including the political prisoners, are facing serious health hazards as a result of widespread cigarette smoking and the existence of all kinds of illicit drugs,” a source, who asked not to be identified, told CHRI.
“In fact, drugs are the prison’s main currency but strangely enough there’s no supervision or control to prevent the massive trafficking taking place there under the nose of the State Prisons Organization,” the source added.
It is the responsibility of the State Prisons Organization, and the judiciary to which it reports, to safeguard the well-being of all detainees in Iran.
It is the responsibility of the judiciary to guarantee due process in all aspects of the prosecutorial process, and the responsibility of the Rouhani administration to protect the rights of the citizens of Iran.
According to the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners:
(1) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served.
(2) Drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.