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EDITORIAL: Coronavirus Outbreak in Iran: Prison Riots Are a Sign of the Regime’s Instability

One of the most significant social phenomena during the critical days of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran is the prisoners’ rebellions and escape in various Iranian cities.  

During the past ten days, prisoners in at least nine cities in Iran, including Khorramabad, Aligodarz, Tabriz, Saqqez, Hamedan, Mahabad, Ahvaz, Tehran, and Shiraz, rebelled. 

In recent weeks, while the Iranian regime has adopted a policy of silence, several inmates have been infected with the coronavirus, and some have died. 

On March 12, 2020, the National Council of Resistance of Iran announced that reports from various prisons of the Iranian regime indicate that the coronavirus have spread in various prisons including Tehran (Fashafouyeh) Prison, Evin Prison, Gohardasht Prison, Karaj Central Prison, Qezel Hassar Prison, Orumieh Prison, Shiban Prison in Ahvaz and Kashan Prison. The political prisoner Amir Hossein Moradi who was arrested during the November 2019 uprising, and sentenced to death for participating in the protests was among those affected by the virus.  

On the same day, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, once again warned about the outbreak of the coronavirus in Iran’s prisons and called on the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to “condemn the clerical regime for its continued criminal cover-up of the spread of coronavirus and for endangering the lives of people in Iran and other countries.” 

On the eve of the Persian New Year, the regime claimed to have temporarily released tens of thousands of prisoners. 

The prison riots in various cities across the country in recent days undermined the regime’s claims and indicated that the assertion was a deceptive act and the prisoners, especially political prisoners, are still in prisons in extremely dangerous conditions. 

In most of the cases, dozens of inmates successfully broke out of prisons, which indicates that the inmates who escaped enjoy broad support and assistance.  

In this regard, the regime’s prosecutor in Kurdistan Province threatened to prosecute “those involved in hiding or providing help in collective prison breaks.” In addition, the prisoners may be assisted by prison guards. State-run news agencies have reported that four Saqqez prison guards have been arrested in this regard.  

The continuation of prison breaks and prisoners’ rebellions, despite the regime’s utmost readiness and mobilization after the first and second cases, shows that the regime’s control and administration system in the prisons has been shaken.  

The destabilization of the regime’s control of prisons demonstrates the depth of its instability and desperation in controlling Iran’s explosive society, which is in a bigger de facto prison. The factors that forced the prisoners to risk their lives and confront armed forces are the same for ordinary people. These factors, including maximum economic pressure and oppression along with the deadly coronavirus, spread by the mullahs’ regime, have made the Iranian society explosive.  

It is this factor that has deeply angered the regime. In this regard, however, the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei, under the pretext of combatting the coronavirus, officially appointed his chief of staff to set up a security and military base. This base, which has taken over part of the government’s duties under its control, is, in fact, a military government for controlling the situation and confronting possible uprisings.  

The regime’s officials have clearly understood that such a situation has put their whole regime on the verge of overthrow. For this reason, amid the coronavirus outbreak which has ravaged the lives of the Iranian people, the regime’s President Hassan Rouhani and other officials blatantly say that we have no shortages of medication or preventive equipment such as masks or hospital facilities in combatting the coronavirus, and they even claim 10,000 hospital beds are empty.   

On the other hand, in its propaganda campaigns for abroad, the regime argues that the reason for the increasing number of coronavirus deaths is the shortage of drugs and medical equipment due to the US sanctions. As such, the regime is trying to use the coronavirus as an “opportunity” to lift the sanctions.  

This means precisely that the regime is using its old method of taking hostages, this time the Iranian people and massacring them to force the other party to give it concessions.   

Apparently, what has not been considered in this sinister and criminal plot and this unthinkable atrocity is the main parameter, the people and their upcoming storm of anger.