Iran’s prisons are a source of frustration for human rights organizations around the world. Inhumane treatment is common and used as a punishment, as well as a source of oppression. The point is to protect the regime, even from those who might question its actions.
On the afternoon of July 15, for example, the head of Prison Protection and a number of guards attacked the political prison section of Rajaie Shahr Prison and, while pretending to search for contraband, they beat Rasoul Hardani, a political prisoner. The point is being made that his beliefs and political stance will not be tolerated, as long as they are opposed to the regime.
This particular attack was a subtle attempt for the Iranian regime to be able to deny the event happened. Yet, other punishments are done in full view of the public, meant to send a message to all the prisoners within that institution. Prison officials in the Central Ardabil Prison chained a prisoner to a flagpole for hours to punish him. The prisoner, Afshin Zinali, was tied outside in the hot weather. He was originally arrested for theft and has received a similar punishment in the past. He is not the only prisoner to receive this treatment.
Medical care is often denied for prisoners, unless their families can pay a high bond to allow them to be moved to a medical facility. Even with these bonds, some prisoners are still not allowed to access treatment for injuries and chronic illnesses.
Another prisoner from Rajaie Shahr Prison passed away from a heart attack, because the prison officials refused to have him transferred to a hospital. According to medical reports, he had a heart attack and was taken to the medical clinic inside the prison by the other prisoners. However, the officials claim that coordination issues delayed his transfer to the hospital and he died just a few hours later.
This treatment is not limited to the male prisoners. Even with the approval of her family to visit a specialist for her kidney disease, political prisoner Atena Daemi was prevented from leaving prison at the last minute. She continues to remain untreated at the prison.
For prisoners, often the only way to fight back is through hunger strikes. Since the prison guards can try to force feed prisoners, many who choose the hunger strike will sew their mouths shut. Many do this to protest treatment in the prison or in protest of extremely high bond amounts that most Iranians are unable to pay.
In the end, the prisoners have to deal with guards and ill-treatment with little recourse to protect themselves or to demand their rights.