Shooting, shooting in Tehran prison where political prisoners and dual citizens are kept

Shooting, shooting in Tehran prison where political prisoners and dual citizens are kept
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DUBAI, Oct 15 (Reuters) – A fire broke out on Saturday at Tehran’s Evin prison, which holds many Iranian political and binational prisoners, and witnesses reported hearing gunshots.

The state news agency IRNA reported that 8 people were injured in the riots that started after nearly a month of protests in Iran over the killing of 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman Mahsa Amini in prison.

The protests created one of the most serious challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution, with demonstrations spreading across the country and some people chanting for the death of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

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An Iranian court statement said the prison workshop was set on fire “following a fight between a number of inmates convicted of financial crimes and theft.” Tehran’s fire department told the state media that the cause of the incident was being investigated.

The prison, located in the foothills of the northern outskirts of the Iranian capital, houses political prisoners as well as criminals.

“The roads leading to Evin’s prison are closed to traffic. There are many ambulances here,” said a witness contacted by Reuters. “Again we hear gunshots.”

Another witness said that the families of the prisoners gathered in front of the main entrance of the prison. “I see fire and smoke. A lot of special forces,” the witness said.

A security official said calm had been restored at the prison, but the first witness said emergency sirens could be heard and smoke was still billowing over the prison.

“People from nearby buildings are chanting ‘Death to Khamenei’ from their windows,” the witness said.

On Sunday morning, IRNA released a video showing the fire damage to the prison grounds. Firefighters appear to be dousing the debris with water to prevent the flames from rekindling.

The prison mainly holds prisoners facing security charges, including Iranians with dual citizenship. He has long been criticized by Western rights groups and was blacklisted by the US government in 2018 for “serious human rights violations”.

Iranian-American Siamak Namazi, who has been imprisoned for nearly seven years on espionage charges dismissed by Washington as unjustified, returned home on Wednesday after being granted a short-term leave, his lawyer said.

According to human rights lawyer Saeed Dehgan, other US citizens detained at his house include British environmentalist Morad Tahbaz and businessman Emad Shargi.

He added that his House has several dual nationals, including French-Iranian academic Fariba Adelkhah and Iranian-Swedish Ahmadreza Djalali, a disaster doctor.

“The Iranian government is very oppressive,” US President Joe Biden told reporters during his campaign in Portland, Oregon, when asked about the prison fire.

He said he was surprised by the “courage of people and women to take to the streets” in the recent protests and had great respect for them. “It was really amazing,” he said. “They are not a good group in the government.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted, “Urgently monitoring news from House Detention. We are in contact with Switzerland as our protecting power. Iran is fully responsible for the safety of our wrongfully imprisoned citizens and must be released immediately.”

Human Rights Watch accused prison authorities of using torture and threats of indefinite detention, as well as lengthy interrogations and denial of medical care to detainees.

“No security (political) prisoners were involved in today’s clash between prisoners, and the ward for mostly security prisoners is separate and away from the wards for thieves and those convicted of financial crimes,” an unnamed official told Tasnim news agency.

‘Clergy are LOST’

The Evin prison riot follows nearly a month of protests in Iran since then Amen – a 22-year-old woman from the Kurdish region of the country died in September. 16 while being held for “improper clothing”.

Riots don’t seem imminent, though crash the systemprotests turned into strikes that closed shops and workplaces, became vital energy sector and encouraged brazen dissent against Iran’s religious administration.

Protesters across Iran took to the streets and at universities on Saturday to chant slogans against the country’s clerical leaders.

A video released by the Norway-based Iran Human Rights Organization showed protests in the northeast of Mashhad, Iran’s second most populous city, where demonstrators chanted “Clergy be gone” and drivers honked their horns.

Videos posted by the group show a strike by shopkeepers in the northwestern Kurdish city of Sagez – Amin’s hometown. Another video circulating on social networks shows high school girls chanting “Woman, life, freedom” on the streets of the central city of Sanandaj, Kurdistan province.

Reuters could not independently verify the videos. Phone and internet services in Iran have been disrupted frequently over the past month, and internet watchdog NetBlocks reported a “new major outage” shortly before the protests began on Saturday.

Iranian activist news agency HRANA said in a statement published on the Internet that 240 protesters were killed during the riots, including 32 minors. It was reported that 26 employees of the security forces were killed and about 8,000 people were arrested during the protests held in 111 cities and towns and about 73 universities.

There are also among the dead teenage girls their deaths became a rallying cry for more demonstrations demanding the fall of the Islamic Republic.

Protesters have called for demonstrations in northwest Ardabil on Saturday over the death of Asra Panahi, a teenager from the Azerbaijani ethnic minority who was allegedly beaten to death by activists’ security forces.

Officials denied the report, and news agencies close to the Revolutionary Guards quoted his uncle as saying the high school student died of heart problems.

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Reporting by the Dubai bureau, additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Mike Stone and Jeff Mason in Washington, writing by Dominic Evans Editing by Helen Popper, William Maclean, Paul Simao and Diane Craft

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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