Those arrested in Iran face a variety of harsh conditions. First, the prisons themselves are not well kept, and many prisoners are forced to live without enough food and water, as well as the denial of medical care.
The crimes of these individuals are varied, but they are likely to include torture prior to your case going to trial. Mahnaz Amvari, a 36-year old resident of Abadan, has not yet gone to trial but has faced 15 days of mental and psychological torture, according to members of her family. Her crime, according to Iranian authorities, was defending her niece and preventing intelligence forces from arresting her. Prison officials are denying her any form of bail and she sits in prison awaiting trial.
One 19-year old, who was just released from Evin Prison after being arrested in October 2017 and sentenced to six months imprisonment by Tehran’s Revolutionary Court, described her prison experience. She was regularly interrogated and asked about whether or not she had sexual relations. Men asked her to describe her sexual acts, despite her repeated denials that she had not participated in any sexual relationship. The guards would kick her chair and attempt to intimidate her into confessing to having sex. Female guards stripped her naked and forced her to stay in a cell alone, trying to break her spirit. There was no explanation why she was arrested in the first place, but it is noted that she is a Christian nun and not a Muslim.
Those in prison also must face a lack of medical care, which can put their lives in danger or leave them with permanent illness and chronic health issues for years after they are released. There is a shortage of medical staff, so those with health issues are not always treated. Even those who can demonstrate that they are physically unable to carry out their prison sentences are denied relief and it can cost them their lives.
The Iranian regime uses prison sentences as a means to control Iranians and to punish those who appear to be questioning the regime. As a result, the prisons in Iran are exceeding their capacity, creating even more difficult living conditions for those housed within them. In the central prison of Isfahan, for example, the prison population is estimated to be four times the capacity of the prison.
Assadullah Gargizadeh, the director of the prisons in Isfahan province, said that many of those in the prisons do not need to be kept there, but that social conditions in society are causing the issue. He also noted that 1,000 prisoners of unintentional crimes are being held in the prisons.
Despite the fact that most prisons in Iran are only meant to hold 15,000 prisoners, many are housing much more than that, as thousands more are arrested by Iranian authorities on an annual basis. Frequently, arrests are used to repress any attempt to speak out regarding social and economic issues by the Iranian people.
For those in the international community, concerns about the Iranian prison system are just one in a host of human rights violations that plague the country.