Global NewsIran: 4 Dead, 61 Injured In Fire At Tehran’s...

Iran: 4 Dead, 61 Injured In Fire At Tehran’s Evin Prison

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A towering blaze at a notorious prison housing political prisoners and anti-government activists in Iran’s capital killed four inmates, the country’s judiciary said Sunday.

Flames and smoke rising from Tehran’s Evin Prison had been widely visible Saturday evening, as nationwide anti-government protests triggered by the death of a young woman in police custody entered a fifth week.

In online videos, gunshots and explosions could be heard in the area of the prison.

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The blaze was extinguished after several hours and no detainees escaped, state media said.

They said the fire broke out after a fight between prisoners, in an apparent attempt to distance the events there from the ongoing protests. Hundreds are being held at Evin, where human rights groups have reported repeated abuses of prisoners.

State media originally reported nine people were injured but the Judiciary website Mizan.news on Sunday said four inmates died of smoke inhalation and 61 others were injured. It said all four who died were in prison on robbery convictions.

Ten inmates were hospitalized, with four of them in serious condition, Mizan reported. It said some prisoners had tried to escape but failed.
State TV on Sunday aired video of the fire’s aftermath, showing scorched walls and ceilings in a room it said was the upper floor of a sewing workshop at the prison.

“This fire was caused by a fight between some prisoners in a sewing workshop,” said Tehran Gov. Mohsen Mansouri. “The workshop was set up to create jobs” for prisoners, he said.

Online video of the prison fire appeared to show rounds being launched into the area by security forces, followed by the sound of an explosion. It wasn’t immediately clear what kind of rounds Iranian security forces used in the incident.

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Witnesses said that police blocked roads and highways to Evin and that at least three strong explosions were heard coming from the area. Traffic was heavy along major freeways near the prison, which is in the north of the capital, and many people honked to show their solidarity with the protests.

Riot police were seen riding on motorbikes toward the facility, as were ambulances and firetrucks. Witnesses reported that the internet was blocked in the area.

The prison fire occurred as protesters intensified anti-government demonstrations along main streets and at universities in some cities across Iran on Saturday. Human rights monitors reported hundreds dead, including children, as the movement concluded its fourth week.

The protests erupted after public outrage over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. She was arrested by Iran’s morality police in Tehran for violating the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.

Iran’s government insists Amini was not mistreated in police custody, but her family says her body showed bruises and other signs of beating after she was detained.

On Sunday, Iran’s parliament published a statement claiming that Amini did not die from any physical blow but that she fell and police waited too long to get treatment for her. It urged police to offer an apology and provide more training to its staff. It suggested police wear cameras on their uniforms and install them in cars used to transfer detainees.

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President Joe Biden, on a trip to Oregon, said the Iranian “government is so oppressive” and that he had an “enormous amount of respect for people marching in the streets.”

Evin Prison, which holds detainees facing security-related charges and includes dual citizens, has been charged by rights groups with abusing inmates. The facility has long been known for holding political prisoners as well as those with ties to the West who have been used by Iran as bargaining chips in international negotiations.

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