Iran said on Sunday that four prisoners were killed and 61 injured in a fire at Tehran’s Avin prison a day earlier. State television broadcast videos clearly showed that peace had returned to the facility.
The judiciary said four of those injured in Saturday’s fire were in critical condition, and those killed were caused by smoke, Iranian state media reported.
The fire at Tehran’s infamous Avin prison comes amid ongoing unrest following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s ethics police a month ago.
The protests have become one of the boldest challenges to the clerical leadership since the 1979 revolution and have been met with a brutal crackdown.
Before officials published the fire death toll, the families of some political detainees took to social media to call on authorities to ensure the safety of prisoners in Avin, which was described in 2018 by the US government as “serious human rights violations”. Was blocked for abuses”.
Iranian officials said on Saturday that a prison workshop was set on fire “after a fight between several prisoners convicted of financial crimes and theft”. Evin has several detainees facing security charges, including dual-national Iranians.
Hours later, footage from Evin aired on state television showed firefighters inspecting a workshop where the fire had damaged the roof. It also showed prisoners in their wards apparently “sleep has been pacified”.
Human rights activist, Atena Daemi, said relatives of prisoners held in the women’s section had gathered for regular meeting hours in prison. Still, the authorities denied entry, resulting in a standoff.
According to Daemi, relatives were told that the prisoners “are fine, but the phones are broken”.
He tweeted, “When families said they won’t leave until they (prisoners) call, don’t give them mobile phones to call, security guards confront families.”
In footage aired on state television, a prison official said inmates had been allowed to contact their families.
Even a lawyer representing a US Iranian held at Siamak Namazas imprisoned for nearly seven years on espionage-related charges dismissed by Washington as baseless said on Sunday that Namazi had indeed committed his crimes. Relatives were contacted.
Several other dual-national Iranians and foreign nationals are lodged in Avin prison, mostly on security-related charges.
“I am happy to share that #SiamakNamazi has now spoken to his family. He is safe and has been taken to a safe area of Evin Prison. In a tweet, we have no further details at this time,” Jared Jensen said.
Genser said Namazi returned to Evin on Wednesday after a brief break.
Asked about the prison fire, US President Joe Biden told reporters on Saturday during a campaign trip in Portland, Oregon, that the Iranian government was “so repressive” and that he was surprised by the courage of Iranian protesters.
Iran’s foreign ministry said Biden had interfered in state affairs by showing support for anti-government protests. The authorities have responded with brutal action.
Rights groups said at least 240 protesters, including 32 minors, have been killed in anti-government protests. On Saturday, Iranian activist news agency HRANA noted that more than 8,000 people had been arrested in 111 cities and towns.
Among the casualties are teenage girls whose deaths have sparked a rally for more demonstrations across the country.
Iran, which has accused enemies of violence at home and abroad, denied that security forces killed the protesters. State media said on Saturday that at least 26 members of the security forces had been killed by “rioters”.
The protests have attracted international condemnation, with the United States, Canada and some European countries imposing sanctions on Iranian officials and organizations “involved in coercing the protesters”.
State Department spokesman Nasser Kanani said, “On Saturday … Biden interfered in the affairs of the state of Iran by supporting the riots … In recent days, the US administration has tried to incite unrest in Iran under various pretexts Tried hard.”
The protests are one of the boldest challenges to the clerical regime since the 1979 revolution, with demonstrations spreading across the country and widespread calls for the fall of the Islamic Republic, even as the unrest draws closer to dismantling the system.