In Iran, having a political opinion different than that of the fundamentalist regime often means harassment, torture, and even imprisonment. For those political prisoners associated with the PMOI/MEK, considered the largest opposition faction to the regime, the reality under this regime is harsh.
In 1988, for example, the massacre of these PMOI/MEK political prisoners numbered approximately 30,000, many of whom had recently completed prison sentences for their support of MEK. Now a new group of political prisoners, having been forcibly moved to Ward 10 with its heavy surveillance, commenced a hunger strike in protest of the inhumane treatment.
Other prisoners have joined them and the result is that they are being transferred into solitary confinement. Those in Ward 10 are being held in cells with windows covered by metal sheets, and they are being deprived of clean water, food, and even sufficient beds. In-person family visits and access to the telephones have also been denied.
“The fact that detention conditions have become so poor that desperate prisoners feel they are forced to go on hunger strike to demand the most basic standards of human dignity is disgraceful and highlights the urgent need for reforms to Iran’s cruel prison system,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director for Amnesty International.
According to information obtained by Amnesty International, some of the prisoners who went on hunger strike were held in solitary confinement for up to 12 days. They were being punished by prison officials for their peaceful protest.
The prisoners on hunger strike, according to Amnesty, have made a series of demands as part of their peaceful protest, which includes the return of their belongings, compensation for the damages incurred during the forcible transfer, and for the authorities to immediately address the dreadful conditions putting their physical and mental wellbeing at serious risk.
“By detaining dozens of prisoners of conscience after grossly unfair trials the Iranian authorities are already shamelessly flouting their human rights obligations. These are people who shouldn’t even be behind bars in the first place, yet instead of being released from custody they are being punished further by being held in appalling conditions,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.
The sealing of the rooms with metal sheets have resulted in poor air circulation, putting the prisoners at risk of health issues and the aggravation of previously diagnosed health conditions. As part of the surveillance, listening devices have been installed in areas that are normally deemed private, such as restrooms and showers.
The prisoners, who had purchased water purifiers at their own expense, do not have access to these purifiers and thus cannot clean their drinking water. Other items that were not transferred with the prisoners included their fridge, food, and kitchenware.
The head of the prison is not allowing prisoners from this ward to be transferred to medical facilities outside of the prison, despite their need for specialized medical attention. Amnesty International is calling on the Iranian authorities to allow international monitors into the prisons to conduct independent, unannounced inspections across the country.