In Iran, finishing your sentence doesn’t always end in release and your freedom. For one young man, his release was through suicide. On May 19, Ali Shahsavari, who was being held in the Zabol Prison “Correction Center”, committed suicide protesting the Zabol public prosecutor refusing to provide him furlough at the end of his sentencing.
He had attempted suicide before, but was prevented by his friends. That time, prison authorities had refused to let him meet with his family, who had travelled from the city of Kerman to see him. Gholamreza Rezai, head of the prison’s security, had previously ordered that this prisoner be transferred to the quarantine section and also had him tortured in the office of the prison guards’ commander.
But Shahsavari was not the only prisoner who died under the hand of Rezai. Ramezan Koohkan was thrown by Rezai from his third-level bed while he was asleep. Koohkan suffered a brain concussion that led to his immediate death, although this knowledge was kept from the prisoners for fear of an uprising. These are just two examples of the harsh life that prisoners in Iran face.
Food quality, hygiene and medical care are also very poor in Zabol Prison, but these conditions are mirrored in prisons throughout Iran. Prisoners who protest the poor conditions often find themselves being beaten or abused. Solitary confinement is also a common punishment for those who try to speak out against these harsh conditions.
During the past month, Zabol prison has suffered an invasion of winged ants, due in large part to the unsanitary conditions, the poor water and the horrible air quality. In Gohardasht Prison, the prisoners are constantly being faced with the loss of water. Prison officials have demanded that the prisoners resolve this problem and provide the funds necessary to repair the system. In the meantime, they are being charged for basic drinking water.
The Iranian Prison Organization chief Asghar Jahangir emphasized that 70% of all prisoners are under the age of 40, adding while the country’s population has increased 66% in the past 30 years, the number of prisoners has increased 333%. The result is prisons that are crowded and ill-prepared to care for such a large number of prisoners. Adding to that, Iran’s use of its prison system as a weapon of repression against its people has also strained their resources.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) has issued a call to the international community and human rights organizations to condemn the conditions of Iran’s prisons and also to support a fact-finding mission to be sent to investigate the true conditions of the prisons and the prisoners inside them.