Bloodshed and Cover-up at Evin Prison!

“Tehran has become a detention centre, Evin has become a slaughterhouse!”

CODIR is alarmed by the numerous reports and video clips that have emerged this evening (from 19:30 Tehran time on Saturday 15 October 2022) of a major incident unfolding at Evin Prison, the most notorious detention facility in Iran, where a significant number of the country’s political prisoners are held.

IRNA, the state broadcaster, has issued a statement claiming that there was a disturbance between members of the general prison population – which then drew in prison guards and led to a fire breaking out in the prisoners’ garments workshop – and that order has now been restored.

However, footage clearly shows a significant blaze taking place, large numbers of regime special forces making their way to the prison, drones and projectiles in the air around the site, the distinct crackling of live gunfire, and the blare of the prison’s emergency sirens.

There are several reports of gatherings of the prisoners’ anxious family members at the scene – who are being forced back by nervy security forces.  Prisoners have also been observed taking to the roof of one of the buildings, trying to escape whatever is taking place there.

This is just days after another violent incident at Lokan Prison (Rasht, northern Iran), in which an undisclosed number of inmates were killed.  There are serious concerns regarding the events at Evin as many political prisoners are kept there, including those detained in recent protests.

There are also reports that a number of prisoners who are of “high-value” to the regime (including the son of former president Rafsanjani) were either granted extraordinary leave or moved elsewhere before the incident.  Thus, fears are growing over what may have in fact transpired at the prison.

What is becoming clear is that the events unfolding at Evin are not confined to a minor disturbance and fire, with a few injuries, as per the regime’s official explanation.  All communication lines with the prison are down and many ambulances have been seen leaving the complex.

Evin Prison is, of course, the site at which thousands of political prisoners have been murdered or otherwise disappeared, under the dictatorships of both the Shah and the Islamic Republic, including the ‘National Catastrophe’ (the prison massacre of 1988) during which thousands were systematically annihilated pursuant to a fatwa issued by the Islamic Republic’s founder, the late Ayatollah Khomeini.  The current hard-line president of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, was one of the key members of the “death commission” then tasked with carrying out this crime against humanity.

CODIR holds the Islamic Republic government ultimately responsible for the fate and safety of all those detained in its prisons.  We call for full transparency regarding the events at Evin Prison and the granting of immediate and unfettered access to UN HRC-appointed investigators.

CODIR also repeats its call for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, including those detained during the recent wave of protests, as well as all prisoners of conscience languishing in the prisons and detention centres of the Islamic Republic.


Since the issuing of the above statement last night, CODIR notes the regime’s announcement that four prisoners died in the blaze and a further 61 were injured (four gravely and many seriously so) during the “disturbances” at Evin Prison.  This contrasts with the IRNA’s earlier claim that calm had been restored and only eight people injured.

The regime-backed Fars news agency has further claimed that the sounds of explosions, which were clearly audible in several of the video clips taken close to the scene, were the result of a group of prisoners that had fled into a mined section of the prison’s perimeter.  This claim was later retracted by the authorities.  In any case, it stands as an appalling indictment of the brutal conditions at Evin Prison as well as the regime’s contempt for those who have the misfortune of being detained there.  It also does not account for the incendiary projectiles which were clearly visible being directed into the prison complex, nor the prolonged gunfire.  There have been no explanations proffered as to the cause of the fire in the prisoners’ garments section.

Communications were re-established to at least some of the prisoners who, while confirming they were safe, also attested to the ferocity of the scenes they had witnessed – and that the death toll would be significantly higher than that claimed by the authorities.  As well as the number of ambulances and emergency vehicles recorded leaving Evin Prison, there are reports of the moving of several busloads of political prisoners to other facilities at unknown locations.

Suspicions are also mounting over the extraordinary leave granted to high-profile detainees before last night’s incident unfolded.

The streets in the district around Evin remained extremely tense throughout the night.  Spontaneous protests and vigils were also reported to have taken place outside the Islamic Republic’s embassies and diplomatic missions in Britain and Germany.

CODIR restates that the United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently call for the launching of a thorough investigation into the events last night at Evin Prison and that the appointed investigators be granted immediate and unfettered by the Islamic Republic authorities to the site.

Agnes Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International and ex Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial Executions, has also tweeted (on the morning of 16 October 2022) that: “The international community must call for a special session of the UN Human Rights Council to create a UN investigative and accountability mechanism on Iran government and religious authorities far too many crimes against the Iranian people.”

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