After Iranian regime security personnel killed or injured dozens of Ahwazi prisoners who attempted to flee two infamous prisons in the Ahwaz region in the south and southwest Iran in fear of mounting coronavirus deaths in the jails, regime officials telephoned the victims’ grieving families to inform them that they will not be allowed to see their loved ones’ bodies and would not be informed where they are buried.
The murdered prisoners include 30-year-old Mohammad Salamat of Ahwaz City, Sayed Reza Khersani, Shahin Zoheiri, and 29-year-old Mohammad Manbuhi, who were all killed at Sheyban Prison.
The officials also reportedly demanded payment from the devastated family members for the damage to the prisons. Dozens of prisoners from the regime’s Sepidar and Sheyban Prisons, both notorious torture centres where cases of the COVID-19 virus had already been reported, were shot, tear-gassed and clubbed by the regime prison personnel as they attempted to escape the infamous jails on Monday and Tuesday respectively, after setting cells on fire in an attempt to raise awareness of their desperate plight.
Outside the prisons, similarly horrendous scenes were seen as prisoners’ family members and locals rushed to the nearby roadway, fearing a massacre after seeing billowing smoke and hearing heavy gunfire and screams. The regime responded by deploying extra security personnel outside the prisons who also attacked the family members and locals.
On Wednesday, regime officials called several of the murdered prisoners’ family members to notify them of their husbands’ and sons’ deaths, with the officials reportedly mocking the bereaved relatives, telling them first that they would not be able to see their loved ones’ bodies or to know where they had been buried, then taunting the mourners that they might be able to find out at some future date.
Adding to this callousness, the regime functionaries also demanded that the murdered men’s family members pay for the costs of the damage to the prisons caused by their loved ones’ escape attempts. The detainees in the two massively overcrowded and unsanitary prisons, mostly political prisoners, had pleaded for weeks to be included in the amnesties allowed for ethnically Persian prisoners in some prisons in other regions of Iran, but once again no Ahwazis were given the same opportunity.
Adding to the cruelty inflicted on the desperate and terrified detainees who have reported coronavirus spreading in the prisons due to the horrendous overcrowding and unsanitary conditions, the regime transferred dozens of prisoners from Sheyban Prison to solitary confinement in some of the regime intelligence service’s notorious black site prisons, accusing them of being ringleaders in the attempted breakout.
The prisoners’ family members are reportedly frantic with worry that their already abused and terrorised relatives will be tortured into making false confessions and given even longer prison sentences to make an example of them and attempt to deter future uprisings.
While several of relatives and other locals were able to disseminate video showing the prisons and the attacks by regime personnel against onlookers on the roadway, international human rights organisations and governments alike have been slow to react, much less condemn the regime for its criminal actions. More immediately, however, the relatives of prisoners alive and dead are all seeking swift protective action for those who remain, including non-Iranian oversight of prison conditions, the prompt provision of medical treatment, and inclusion of Ahwazi political prisoners in general amnesty or on reasonable bail.
Rahim Hamid, a freelance journalist and human rights advocate. You can follow him on his twitter account: https://twitter.com/samireza42
The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of the Dur Untash Studies Centre.