Statement of the Tudeh Party of Iran: On the catastrophic fire in Evin Prison and the serious danger that threatens the lives of the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience

According to reports posted on social media, a large fire has engulfed Evin Prison [situated on the northern fringes of Tehran].  In an interview with the national television broadcaster of the reactionary regime, which was then relayed by Khabar Online, Tehran’s governor claimed tonight that: “Wards 7 and 8 [of Evin Prison] had descended into disorder – and the main issue had been the lighting of a bonfire by a few prisoners, which was controlled and contained by firefighters. Now, both the prison and the surrounding streets are back under control.”

Various reports indicate heavy clashes in Evin Prison and the opening of fire by regime mercenaries upon the detainees.  It is important to note that a number of political prisoners, including those arrested in the recent popular protests, are being held at Evin Prison, especially in Ward 7.  According to other reports which we have received; this evening, several prisoners contacted their families and told them that two nights ago the security forces had tried to intimidate the prisoners and that gunfire had been heard.  After these calls, the families went to the prison and gathered in front of the main gate – but security forces came out of the prison and forcefully dispersed them.

Atena Daemi, a civil society activist who was released from prison less than a year ago, tweeted: “Yesterday, they informed me from inside the prison that three prisoners had been transferred to Rajai Shahr Prison [a.k.a. Gohardasht Prison, in Karaj] and that a special police squad was dispatched to Ward 7 chanting ‘Haidar! Haidar!’ [a Shi’a Islamist invocation] to provoke the prisoners; a number of political prisoners, as well as general convicts, responded by chanting slogans back.”

Considering the [extent of the] blaze, the prolonged gunfire audible, and even the sounds of explosions in the complex, many people, especially the families of prisoners, are concerned about [what has actually transpired] inside the prison.

With the spread of popular protests, the criminal theocratic regime of Iran is committing a new crime every day.  Khamenei’s crimes know no boundaries: from attacking schools and beating teenagers to directly shooting at innocent people, massacring dozens of people in Zahedan, bombarding the Kurdistan Autonomous Region [in Iraq], as well as killing and injuring hundreds more of our fellow Iranians.

Let us not forget that Ali Khamenei, in a message posted on social media on 28 June 2022, implicitly reaffirmed the regime’s extreme and dangerous disposition.  There, he invoked the year 1981 – when the [nascent] Islamist regime massacred a large number of dissidents, freedom fighters, and militants for social justice – and stated: “The God of the year ’81 is the God of this year…  Back then, we were able to stand on our own feet in the face of all those incidents and serious encounters to frustrate the enemy; we can do the same today.”

Our people have learned through [painful] experience that the leaders of the Islamic Republic are willing to commit any crime to save their anti-people and anti-patriotic regime.  The Tudeh Party of Iran, along with all other progressive and freedom-loving forces, is closely following the developments of recent hours and the fire at Evin Prison.  We believe that the criminals that rule our nation have put the lives of hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience at serious risk through their perpetrating of this terrible tragedy.  It is imperative that we do all we can to save the lives of the political prisoners and not allow the theocratic regime to repeat another terrible atrocity like that it oversaw in the massacre of thousands of political prisoners during the summer of 1988.

We call upon all the relevant responsible international bodies and the UN Human Rights Council to oblige the Iranian government to provide access to an independent panel tasked with investigating tonight’s incident in Evin Prison and publishing its findings.  The Iranian government is ultimately responsible for all prisoners’ safety and wellbeing.

Tudeh Party of Iran

16 October 2022

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