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New COVID-19 Outbreak in Iran’s Prisons, Regime’s Inaction, and a Looming Catastrophe

New COVID-19 outbreak in Iran’s prisons, regime’s inaction, and a looming catastrophe
Urmia central prison

Reports from the Urmia central prison, northwest Iran, indicate that due to the regime’s negligence in isolating and curing those infected with COVID-19, dozens of inmates are infected and there is possibility of a catastrophe.   

Meanwhile, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) announced on Wednesday that over 49,000 people have lost their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Since last week, many of the inmates in different wards of Urmia prison had symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, shiveringsore throat, loss of taste and smell, aches, and pain.  The prison authorities’ negligence has resulted in the spread of the virus across Urmia Central Prison, infecting all prisoners. Following repetitive protests by prisoners, and fearing another round of riots, the regime’s authorities tested some of the inmates, all of whom tested positive for COVID-19. These few inmates were transferred to hospital.  The prisoners of Central Urmia Prison, much like other prisons, are deprived of having the minimum hygienic facilities such as soaps and disinfectants. These goods are sold at a very high price, and most of the prisoners cannot afford to buy them.  

In a detailed report published on March 12the National Council of Resistance of Iran, based on the information obtained by the MEK through its vast network inside Iran, stated: “Prisoners are deprived of sanitary masks and even disinfectants. Some prisoners in Karaj’s central prison do not have prison cells and are held in the prison yard. Lack of hygiene is aggravated because political and ordinary prisoners, including addicts, are kept together. This situation has accelerated the spread of the Coronavirus. According to reports by relatives of prisoners, the Iranian regime has exploited the Coronavirus crisis to heighten pressure on and even secretly eliminate political prisoners. The official statement regarding temporary leave for prisoners does not pertain to political prisoners.”

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“In the notorious Evin prison in north Tehran, inmates infected with coronavirus have been seen in wards 4, 7 and 8. A prisoner in ward 4 died due to Coronavirus. There is no news about several political prisoners being held in this prison. Prisoners of conscience in Ahvaz, Zahedan, Qouchan, and Sanandaj have contracted Coronavirus. Scores of people who were arrested during the nationwide anti-regime protests in November are in immediate danger. For example, the 5th section of the Greater Tehran Prison is allocated to those arrested during November 2019. Several among them are already infected with the coronavirus. As of Sunday evening, March 1, more than 40 inmates of the 5th section were quarantined in the hospital due to infection. Out of hostility towards the prisoners, the regime’s judiciary is still not agreeing to temporary leave, which endangers all prisoners with the possibility of infection,” NCRI report added.  

Since the first days of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran, the Iranian regime chose cover-up and inaction. It has been continuing its policy of downplaying the crisis. The regime forced people back to work, refused to release all prisoners or considerable number of them, yet without any confirmation bragged about releasing 85,000 prisoners. In addition, the regime quickly returned those few people released on furlough to prisons, creating even higher risks for the prisoners inside prison and it refused to even quarantine the rearrested inmates.  

The regime’s negligence in handling the coronavirus outbreak in Iranian prisons, resulted in dozens of prison riots across Iran. The truth is the regime had forced inmates to choose between death by bullet or death by the COVID-19, therefore the mullahs increased their suppressive measures at Iranian prisons.  

As the NCRI had earlier asserted: “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.”  

Yet, the regime’s ongoing mistreatment of defenseless inmates will result in a major catastrophe across Iranian prisoners, and the international community must intervene to prevent this from happening.  

In this regard, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI’s president-elect, described the increasing trend of the coronavirus nationwide as the direct result of the clerical regime’s criminal and inhuman policies. She said: “Khamenei and Rouhani are the first among officials responsible for our compatriots losing their lives on such a vast scale.

Mrs. Rajavi warned about the situation of prisons in Iran and again called on the United Nations Secretary-General, the Security Council, and other relevant international agencies to act to thwart the humanitarian catastrophe developing in the regime’s prisons.