Saturday, September 23, 2023

Iran prison fire kills eight inmates, West imposes sanctions for rights violations

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Eight Iranian detainees have been killed in a fire that swept through Evin prison in Tehran on Saturday, Iran’s judiciary said Monday, doubling the official toll of the fire that has added pressure on the government as it struggles to contain mass protests stem from the death of Mahsa Amini.

A look at the aftermath of the fire at Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. (Photo: Reuters)

By India Today Web Desk: Eight inmates have been killed in a fire that swept through Evin prison in Tehran on Saturday, Iran’s judiciary said Monday, doubling the official toll of the fire that has increased pressure on the government as it struggles to contain mass protests in Tehran. dams caused by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Authorities in the Islamic Republic late Saturday attributed the fire to “riots and clashes” among prisoners, but human rights groups said they doubted the official version of events and feared the real toll could be even higher.

Iran’s judiciary said on Monday that four Evin inmates injured in the blaze had died in hospital after reporting an initial toll of four deaths from smoke inhalation the previous day.

According to justice, the fire was started on Saturday evening by prisoners in a workshop after a fight. All came from a section of the prison for inmates held for theft-related crimes, it said.

A major fire broke out at Evin Prison in Tehran, which houses many political prisoners and Iranians with dual citizenship. Witnesses claim to have heard shots and gunshots from within the complex.

Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei said on Monday that the fire was “a crime committed by a few elements linked to the enemy”.

But the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) group said it “rejects” the official record of clashes between non-political prisoners unrelated to the protests, citing its “long history of concealing facts”. in the Islamic Republic.

“The death toll in Evin Prison is likely higher than the official count,” it added.

Activists noticed even more confusion when state television announced on Sunday that 40 people had died in prison, only to correct this to the original figure of four just minutes later.

A view of the entrance to Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. (Photo: Reuters)

The fire came after four weeks of protests against the death of 22-year-old Amini, following her arrest for allegedly violating Iran’s strict dress code for women.

The unrest has turned into one of the most brutal challenges for Iran’s spiritual rulers since the 1979 revolution, with protesters calling for the downfall of the Islamic Republic, even though the protests do not appear to overthrow the system.

Hundreds of protesters arrested in recent weeks have been sent to Evin, notorious for its ill-treatment of political prisoners, which also houses foreign detainees and thousands are imprisoned for criminal charges. Evin was blacklisted by the US government in 2018 for “serious human rights violations.”

Protests were held on Sunday in the wake of the Evin fire, including at Tehran and Shariati universities, where women chanted “We are all Mahsa!”

IHR said many detainees had been transferred to Gohardasht prison in Karaj west of Tehran in the wake of the fire.

The damage caused by the fire at Evin Prison. (Photo: AFP)

WESTERN COUNTRIES DRAW UP SANCTIONS, EU WILL FOLLOW

Meanwhile, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s head of foreign policy, said the bloc expects “maximum transparency on the situation” at Evin.

The EU agreed to impose new sanctions, approved on Monday by its foreign ministers, targeting the vice squad, information minister Eisa Zarepour and the cyber department of her Revolutionary Guards over Amini’s death and the crackdown on subsequent attacks. protests. They will be subject to EU visa bans and asset freezes.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Naser Kanani said Tehran would provide an “immediate response” to the sanctions.

Tehran’s crackdown on protests, involving people from all walks of life, has drawn sharp international criticism from the West. The United States, Britain and Canada have already announced sanctions against Iran for rights violations.

Iran has accused countries that have expressed support for the protests of meddling in their internal affairs, including President Ebrahim Raisi, who on Sunday blamed his US counterpart for inciting “chaos, terror and destruction” in Iran.

(With input from Reuters and AFP)


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