Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, August 25, 2021—In a rare admission, the head of Iran’s Prisons Organization confirmed leaked videos that show the abuse of detainees at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
The footage, which was released online by a group of hackers who had obtained access to recordings from CCTV cameras inside the prison, shows guards beating and dragging prisoners on the floor. The videos also show suicide among inmates.
The videos were widely distributed online and generated much discussion on social media.
On Tuesday, three days after the videos were leaked, Mohammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi, confirmed the authenticity of the footage by apologizing to regime supreme leader Ali Khamenei.
In a Twitter post, Haj-Mohammadi said, “Regarding the footage of Evin Prison, I claim responsibility for this unacceptable behavior and, while pledging to avoid the repeat of such bitter incidents and serious repercussions with the violators, I apologize to God, our dear leader, the great people, and the noble prison guards whose efforts will not be eclipsed by these errors.”
The head of Prisons Organizations tweets about leaked videos of Evin prison
It is not clear whether Haj-Mohammadi’s apology to Khamenei is because of the content of the videos or the fact that they were leaked. It also isn’t clear whether whether “avoid the repeat of such bitter incidents” is a reference to the beating of prisoners, which is a known fact in the regime’s prisons, or to the hacking of the video cameras.
But the fact that Haj-Mohammadi has offered no apologies to the prisoners who have been subjected to the beatings and torture by prison guards tells a lot about his so-called apology. Even more telling is the fact that Haj-Mohammadi has set the banner picture of his Twitter profile to a picture of Assadollah Lajevardi, a criminal who is renowned for his brutal torture methods as one of the key authorities of Evin prison. There are numerous accounts of Lajevardi killing political prisoners under torture in the early 1980s, when he served in Evin prison.
The Twitter profile of Mohammad Mehdi Haj-Mohammadi, head of the Prisons Organization
It is worth noting that Evin Prison is home to many political prisoners, and the released footage is a fraction of the reality going on in the high-security penitentiary complex or the regime’s safe houses, unchartered buildings that security forces use to interrogate and torture political prisoners. Accounts given by prisoners who spent time in Evin prison in different periods pertain to physical torture, deprivation of food and medicine, lack of basic hygiene, lack of access to family and lawyers. Evin’s prison guards are notoriously renowned for torturing prisoners to death. Earlier this year, political prisoner Behnam Mahjoubi was killed under torture in Evin prison. Evin was also one of the main venues of the 1988 massacre, a crime against humanity in which the Iranian regime executed more than 30,000 political prisoners in the span of a few months.
It is also worth reminding that Evin is just one of many prisons where inmates are subjected to brutal conditions.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), urged the
United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteurs, and the international human rights organizations to take immediate action to visit the Iranian regime’s prisons and prisoners, especially political prisoners.
“The dossier of flagrant and systematic violations of human rights in Iran, particularly the dossier on the regime’s behavior in prisons, must be referred to the UN Security Council,” Mrs. Rajavi said.
In response to Haj-Mohammadi’s so-called apology, Amnesty International stressed that mistreatment in Iran’s prisons is too widespread and systemic to be the work of “a few bad apples.” also called for inspections of Iran’s prisons. “If the Iranian authorities want their promises of accountability to not ring hollow, they must immediately allow international monitors, including [human rights experts] and [United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran] Javeid Rehman to conduct independent inspections of Evin and other prisons,” Amnesty tweeted on Wednesday.
The regime is surely worried about what else might crop up in future videos that the hacker group, codenamed “Justice of Ali,” will release. On Tuesday, the state-run Hamdeli newspaper quoted a social media discussion, stating, “Did the cameras of Ward 209, 240, and 2A get hacked too?” These are sections of Evin prison that are for political prisoners, where the regime practices the harshest torture and persecution. Hamdeli also expressed concern about the volume of data that the hackers might have obtained and the repercussions it will have for the regime.
Modara, another state-run news outlet, warned that the hacking of the cameras and the leaked videos will cause great problems for the regime’s security apparatus. “We will soon see the hackers identify people who are shown in the videos and publish their specifications on social media. This alone will be a great blow to security institutions. Even if the videos are not published, they will still be of great use to foreign services,” Modara wrote.