Four killed in Iran prison fire, 61 injured as protests continue

  • Iranian judiciary says the dead died from smoke inhalation
  • Iran says calm has returned to Evin prison after a fire and has released video footage
  • The fire comes amid widespread protests and brutal repression
  • Iran accuses Biden of interfering in state affairs
  • Protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini enter the second month

DUBAI (Reuters) – A fire broke out in Iran’s Evin prison late on Saturday, killing four detainees and injuring 61 others, state media said, as anti-government protests that erupted over the death of a woman in police custody continued on Sunday, including It is in several universities.

On Saturday, Iranian authorities said that a prison workshop was set on fire “after a quarrel between a number of prisoners convicted of financial and theft crimes.” Evin also holds several detainees facing security charges, including Iranian dual nationals.

Iranian state media reported that the Iranian judiciary said that four of the injured in Saturday’s fire were in critical condition, and that the dead died from smoke inhalation.

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The protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16 have turned into one of the boldest challenges Iran’s clerical rulers have faced since the 1979 revolution, with demonstrators calling for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic, even if the turmoil did not appear to be the case. On the verge of overthrowing the regime.

Demonstrations continued in several universities, Sunday, including in the cities of Tabriz and Rasht, to a heavy deployment of riot police. Videos posted on social media showed students at a Tehran university chanting: “Iran has turned into a big prison. Evin prison has turned into a slaughterhouse.”

Other videos showed fires burning at road junctions in several cities, including the capital and Piranshahr in the west of the country, as motorists sounded their horns and heard anti-government slogans.

Dozens of protesters were also seen in a poor neighborhood of Tehran, before security forces dispersed them on motorbikes and fired tear gas canisters into the air.

Reuters was unable to verify the authenticity of the videos.

Families of some political detainees have taken to social media to demand that the authorities guarantee their safety in Evin Prison, which the US government blacklisted in 2018 for “gross violations of human rights.”

Video footage of the prison aired on state television hours after the fire appeared to show calm returning to the facility as inmates slept in their wards. It also showed firefighters inspecting a workshop with fire damage to the roof.

Atena Daemi, a human rights activist, said that relatives of prisoners in the women’s section went to Evin to visit her for hours, but that authorities denied them access, which led to a confrontation. According to Al-Daimi, they were told that the prisoners were “fine, but the phones are broken.” She later tweeted that some of the inmates had called their families.

The husband of Iranian journalist Nilofar Hamidi, who broke the news of Amini’s hospitalization and arrest last month, also wrote on Twitter that she had called him on Sunday.

A lawyer representing an Iranian-American held in Evin prison, Siamak Namazi, who has been imprisoned for nearly seven years on espionage charges that Washington dismissed as baseless, said Sunday that Namazi had called his relatives.

“Siamak Namazi has now spoken to his family. He is safe and has been moved to a secure area in Evin Prison. We have no further details,” attorney Jared Jensser said in a tweet.

Several Iranian nationals and foreign nationals with dual nationals are being held in Evin Prison mostly on security-related charges. Some of their friends and relatives’ Twitter posts said they called their families on Sunday.

violent repression

When asked about the prison fire, US President Joe Biden said on Saturday that he was surprised by the courage of the Iranian protesters. He earlier called on Iran to “end violence against its citizens who are simply exercising their basic rights.”

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said Biden was inciting “chaos, terror and destruction…(and) he should be reminded of the eternal words of the founder of the Islamic Republic who called America the Great Satan,” referring to the late Iranian revolutionary leader, Ayatollah. Ruhollah Khomeini.

On Sunday, the French Foreign Ministry said it was following with great interest the situation in Evin prison, “where several French nationals are being held arbitrarily.”

The protests were met with brutal repression by the state. Rights groups said at least 240 protesters were killed, including 32 minors. Today, Saturday, an activist Iranian news agency said that more than 8,000 people have been arrested in 111 cities and towns. The authorities have not released the death toll.

Among the victims were teenage girls whose deaths became a rallying cry for further demonstrations across the country.

Iran, which has blamed the violence on enemies at home and abroad, denies that security forces have killed protesters. On Saturday, state media said at least 26 members of the security forces had been killed by “rioters”.

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Additional reporting by Matthew Rosemin in Paris Writing by Parisa Hafezi Editing by Raisa Kasulowsky, Alexandra Hudson and Deepa Babington

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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