Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, September 1, 2021—As outrage over leaked footage of torture in Tehran’s Evin prison continues to spread, a spokesperson for the Iranian regime’s judiciary tried to downplay the event by comparing it to things that happen all across the world.
Zabiollah Khodaian, who has just started work as the spokesperson of the judiciary, said in his first press meeting that “the mistakes of a few soldiers” should not be attributed to “all the employees” of the Prisons Organization.
Khodaian further said, “Prison guards have one of the toughest jobs in the world and some of them might commit mistakes,” to which he added, “In all prisons across the world, we see scenes like this.”
Khodaian tried to dampen the outrage at the mistreatment of prisoners by saying, “The scenes in the published videos are against the law and unacceptable.”
Khodaian said that the judiciary has tasked the general prosecutor to pursue the matter and to identify the culprits, and that six prison guards have been referred to courts.
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 inmates attempting to commit suicide, overcrowded cells, and cells with horrible conditions.
The videos were widely distributed online and generated much discussion on social media.
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.”
Haj-Mohammadi did not apologize to the prisoners and their families. And neither did Khodaian. In his remarks to the media on Tuesday, he said that some of the prisoners are people that “no city can tolerate.” He also reiterated remarks of judiciary deputy Mohammad Mossadegh who claimed on Monday that the videos were “fabricated.”
Khodaian said, “These videos have been edited and put one behind another, and people might think that these scenes happen on a daily basis, which is not correct.”
It is worth noting that although heart-rending, the videos do not show everything that is going on in Evin Prison. They do not show footage from the wards of political prisoners, who are in much worse conditions that other 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. The regime also has many unchartered safe houses, where prisoners are brutally tortured and often killed without anyone finding out about them.
After the videos surfaced, human rights organizations and activists reiterated calls to hold the regime to account for its human rights abuses.
“This disturbing footage offers a rare glimpse of the cruelty regularly meted out to prisoners in Iran. It is shocking to see what goes on inside the walls of Evin prison, but sadly the abuse depicted in these leaked video clips is just the tip of the iceberg of Iran’s torture epidemic,” said Heba Morayef, Middle East and North Africa Regional Director at Amnesty International.
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.