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Visiting November 2019 Detainees

Islamic Republic prisons' horrifying situation. Political prisoners have to sleep standing up or pay for a bed on a weekly basis. Treatment, yard,... everything costs and officials benefit from it all.

Tablet B (buprenorphine), double pack: 50,000 Tomans**.
Glass (methamphetamine), 1 gram: 120 thousand Tomans.
Petition: between 2 to 5 million Tomans.
Opium, 1 gram: 200 thousand Tomans.
Soccer ball: 100 thousand Tomans.
Cannabis, 1 gram: 220 thousand Tomans.
Volleyball: 50,000 Tomans.
Heroin, 1 gram: 250 thousand Tomans.
Sports tour: 250 thousand Tomans.
Postage cost, in service and employment unit: 8300 Tomans, in unit one: 15 thousand Tomans.

Maryam Karimbeigi, an activist and sister of Mostafa Karimbeigi who was killed by Islamic Republic in 2009 protests, explains being in prison is costly!

Winston cigarette pack: 20 thousand Tomans, Kent: 10 thousand Tomans, Bahman: 7 thousand Tomans. Going to the bathroom costs: 10 cigarettes. You have to pay with cigarettes to take a bath: two packs. Hall cleaning costs two packs a week. The common currency here is cigarettes, with cigarettes everything is possible. [1] To get here, from Tehran, you have to take Hassanabad exit at the 12th kilometer of Tehran-Qom freeway, in Hassanabad city circle around the main city square to the Hassanabad-Charmshahr road, and 30 kilometers in, you reach a hell that the Islamic Republic calls the “Greater Tehran penitentiary” and its “penitents” “client”, its cells “Andarzgah” and its wards “unit”. In here, however, no one seeks help, no remorse is found, and no advice is received. And if you are thrown here, the driver himself knows the road well. The driver’s fare, however, is on you.

Fare to Evin: 15 thousand Tomans, to Fashafoyeh: 100 thousand Tomans.

The benefit is with Fashafoyeh, and the beneficiaries are the officials who will preferably transfer you to this hell, which was founded in 2001. The building plan was buried for 10 years until they came in the second term of Ahmadinejad and started building a shed. They built a wall around 110 hectares of land and a watchtower. In 2015, when it was announced that the first phase of the construction of the Islamic Republic Hell was ready for use, it was called “Fashafoyeh Drug Convicts’ Camp” and Mohsen Shams, the head of Fashafoyeh Camp, told reporters that the prison was ready to receive 2,500 prisoners. Two years later, in February 2018, when Rasoul Hoveida was transferred here along with hundreds of other Gonabadi dervishes, more than 15,000 people were detained in four brigades of the prison, which was no longer reserved for “drug convicts.” There was no such thing as separation of crimes, they were locked up. Prisoners slept in the corridors and entrances to the toilets. And in the months following the nationwide protests in November 2019, 20,000 prisoners were concentrated here. There are now five brigades here. Each brigade has 11 wards, 10 public wards and one “closed”, quarantine, “suite” or as the prisoners in this hell say: “hell”. Fashafoyeh residents illustrate the difference between the suite and general ward of a brigade by comparing the difference between a “toilet” and a “bedroom”. A place to sleep is a luxury item. Now here, a chipboard, which is the habitat of bedbugs to scabies and various insects, is placed on the toilets to sleep on. The WC here is a hole in a space of 60 by 60 cm, without hoses, sinks and light, separated with a curtain from 3-story bunks and cells of 3 meters by 3 meters in which between 26 to 32 “clients” squiggle.  

Bed deposit, broker’s share: 1 million, bed owner share: 3 million, total: 4 million Tomans. Rent a bed, weekly: 400 thousand Tomans.

Haniyeh Ghareh-Oghlani, sister of Hamed Ghareh-Oghlani, a political prisoner in Urmia prison, explains he has to pay 500,000 Tomans for an opportunity to sleep on the floor!

Prisoner clothes and belongings are taken from him upon arrival. A small towel, undergarments, toilet paper, shorts, 2 kilos and 700 grams of sugar cubes are given to each prisoner upon arrival, plus a small shampoo, which is given to him every 40 days. This is the prison ration. The prisoner has to buy a toothbrush, toothpaste, a bath towel, dish-washing liquid and everything at a very high price inside the prison. Prison food has no quality, it is poison. Prison water is stinky, tasteless and undrinkable. In mid 2020, each prisoner spent at least 1 million Tomans a month to have drinking water, food, and basic hygiene. [2]

Arsham Rezaee, a political prisoner who was arrested for participating in 2018 protests, describes the prison’s food as “dreadful, without meat,…”

What costs a prisoner is income for the prison and its officials. The prisoner has to spend money for everything. From transfer fee to prison to food, sleep, medicine, treatment, telephone, visit, yard, health, newspaper, and everything else is the responsibility of the “client”. The huge income from this place is so attractive to prison officials that not only do they have no incentive to improve prison conditions, but according to field reports and research over the years, they are increasing the deterioration of prison conditions day by day – for a very simple reason: greed. There is a direct correlation between the income of prison officials and the deterioration of prison conditions: the worse the conditions, the heavier the prison costs, and the heavier the prison costs, the higher the income of prison officials.

Ensiyeh Daemi, sister of Atena Daemi, a political prisoner and human rights activist, explains some of the costs a prisoner must bear.

The law allows prisoners to buy the equipment they need in prison. Refrigerators, freezers, carpets, televisions, blankets, wardrobes, shoe racks, bedding, and whatever they want, prisoners can buy inside the prison at several times the actual price. But these items must be donated to prison at the time of purchase. This means that prisoners are not allowed to sell, move or transfer the items to another prison. The refrigerator that the detainee buys at his own expense when he enters the prison, when he is released or transferred to another prisoner, is not released or transferred with him, but remains in the prison and is taken over by the prison authorities, which they resell it several times the actual price to another detainee for a remarkable profit. Transferring prisoners has become a lucrative business for prison officials. A former prisoner describes two examples of this type of business to HRANA: “Last year [2019], a large number of prisoners detained in Ward 4 of Evin Prison were first transferred to Wards 7 and 8 of Evin under the pretext of separating prisoners from defendants. But a few months later, a number of them were brought to the 5th Brigade of the Greater Tehran Prison. They announced that the convicts had been transferred to the Greater Tehran Prison and that the defendants would remain in Evin Prison. Prisoners were again forced to buy equipment and facilities in Greater Tehran Prison. Another example is the detainees of the 2018 protests. The merchants who were arrested during the dispersed protests of 2018 were transferred to the suite or closed ward No. 11 of the 1st Brigade of the Greater Tehran Prison. During the three months they spent in this ward, due to lack of facilities, they had to buy basic items such as refrigerators, freezers, televisions, and so on. After the release of these people on bail, the items worth 300 million Tomans were bought by the detained merchants and donated to the prison. Less than a month later, with the arrest of the second group of protesters, they were once again sold to them as new. Some time later, the third group of detainees, activists of social media such as Alireza Shirmohammadi and the protesting people of Ahvaz, were brought to this ward and they were forced to buy these third-hand goods.”

In the last weeks of the Persian year (late February), before the start of the Nowruz holiday, the days when there are special costs for everyone, including prison officials, we saw an increase in the unreasonable and forced transfers of political prisoners. Atena Daemi was forcibly transferred from Evin Prison to Lakan Prison in Rasht without any reason. Ismail Abdi has been transferred from Evin to Rajai Shahr and Mojgan Keshavarz, Sepideh Farhan, Sakineh Parvaneh, Maryam Akbari Monfared, Golrokh Ebrahimi Eraiee and Sepideh Qolyan have been transferred from Evin Prison to Qarchak, Quchan, Semnan, Amol and Bushehr prisons.

There are 5 salons here. But if one does not have money, it does not matter which brigade or ward he is in, he should eat prison food, drink prison water, sleep standing, reduce his mobility as much as possible so that he is less thirsty and hungry. Many of the Bloody November detainees had not yet reached 18 when they were brought here:

Mehrdad Mohammadnejad, arrested on October 21, 2018 for his social media posts, quotes his exchange with a 17-year-old political prisoner from November 2019 protests.

“People under the age of 18 were kept in a separate room called the Shaparak (moth) Room. Two elderly prisoners with financial crimes were also placed in this room to control these teenagers.” [3]

Translation of this article by Sahar.

**: Toman is Iran’s unofficial currency, each Toman equals 10 IRR. Average income of a laborer, the majority of detainees from Iran protests in November 2019, was 1 million Toman a month.

  1. City of Convicts: Etemad Daily Newspaper interview with prisoners of financial crimes.
  2. HRANA’s report from Greater Tehran Prison.
  3. Mehrdad Mohammadnejad, in an interview with Radio Farda.
Arezou Saaberi
Arezou Saaberi
There comes a time in life when you have to choose whether to turn the page or to close the book!