Sensation and shock during a protest against the killing of Mahsa Amini, the murderer of a Muslim activist and human rights activist in Iran
Editor’s Note: Kylie Moore-Gilbert is an Australian-British scholar of Middle East and Islamic studies. She was released in November 2020 after being released from a prison in Iran over espionage allegations. The author is Moore-Gilbert. My time in an Iranian prison lasted over 800 days. The views expressed in this commentary are her own. View more opinion on CNN.
Among us was a collective sense of shock and amazement, tempered with fear and concern for those trapped inside Evin prison. I had imagined my former cellmates cowering in the hallways and fighting the effects of tear gas, as if they were sisters.
I could only imagine how terrifying it would be to be locked up in a crowded prison ward and not have a chance of escape as police and fire engulfed the area.
One family member claims that at one point the anti-riot assassins tried to get inside the women’s ward and were shooting at random. The head of the Prison Authority stood in the doorway to prevent the shooter from entering.
For decades the notoriously brutal facility has housed political prisoners — most recently, activists arrested during nationwide protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month in police custody.
Families of current and former prisoners as well as former hostages frantically exchanged information and looked at one another after the fire.
The Iranian human rights lawyer Amirsalar Davoudi got word out that he and his cellmates in Ward 4 had survived — likewise the recently arrested activist Arash Sadeghi. There was a collective sigh of relief among those of us connected to the prison with every welfare check received.
The Evin prison was built into the foothills of the Al Borz Mountains. Ringed by high concrete walls topped with razor wire, the prison is guarded by a contingent of armed soldiers whose noisy patrols could often be heard from within the cells.
When entering the prison via the front gates, blindfolded, handcuffed and crammed into the back seat of a vehicle, there are an elaborate series of security checks that need to be passed. A prisoner could count how many checkpoints had been passed by how many times the vehicle’s trunk was opened and inspected.
Inside is a maze of administrative buildings and judiciary offices, with roughly a dozen prison wards perched on top of each other and built into the sharp slope of the mountain.
These “black sites” are excluded from the oversight of Iran’s Prison Authority, an institution that is supposed to safeguard prisoner rights. The granting of prisoner sabbaticals and the provision of medical treatment to inmates were some of the things that the competing groups would often fight over.
It was days before I would glean more news of my friends. It appears that, as chaos reigned supreme and security forces unleashed deadly force on those inmates attempting to escape their burning wards, the female political prisoners came perilously close to attack.
I knew that a lawyer named Nasrin Sotoudeh was recently rearrested, and that I had known him in prison.
Some of the Islamic Republic’s opponents are locked away in the women’s ward at Evin, just as many of the protests on the streets were being led by women. Some of these inspiring women could become the future leaders of a free and democratic Iran if given the chance.
The release of a French doctor and human rights activist from Tehran’s Evin prison and the alleged hunger strike against the enforcement of the compulsory hijab law
A crowd of people massed on the streets outside of Evin as the situation improved, and family members desperately sought information about their loved ones inside.
I cannot imagine what it was like to hear gunfire just meters from their locked doors. I am pretty sure that he is a part of a system that detains innocent people without due process, but I am happy that he discovered his conscience. The very lives of my precious friends may have depended on it.
It is not illogical to suppose that Iranian prisoners, many of them entirely innocent of any crime, would want to demonstrate solidarity with their brave compatriots protesting on the streets.
The regime is likely losing its grip on the country if it can’t control the maximum security prison. For a day in which there will no longer be an Evin prison needed, many of us are hoping.
An Iranian doctor and rights activist has been released from Tehran’s infamous Evin prison one week after photographs of his severely emaciated condition emerged on social media.
Meysami’s release came as the French Ministry of Foreign affairs announced that a French academic had also been released from Evin.
Meysami was sent to jail in disgrace after supporting women who protested the compulsory hijab law. He was accused of forming a group to act against national security and spreading propaganda against the regime. The group focuses on Iran, Human Rights Activists (HRANA).
Images showing his frail body, protruding bones and shaved head caused outrage on social media when they surfaced last week. A human rights lawyer said that Meysami had lost weight due to his resistance to being moved to a different prison, and he had been beaten due to that.
The text of a letter allegedly written by Meysami and provided to CNN by the lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi, showed that Meysami had gone on hunger strike to protest the execution of prisoners, to call for the release of several protesters and to demand the end of enforcement of the compulsory hijab law. CNN could not verify the authenticity of the letter.
Human Rights Monitor of Iran, the High-Density Violations of Human Rights and Freedom, and the Press Release of a Professor at the IRC Sciences Po
The amnesty included some people who had been arrested in recent anti-government protests that have swept the country since last fall, according to HRANA.
Nationwide dissent erupted late last year, as decades of bitterness over the regime’s treatment of women and other issues boiled over after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in the custody of the country’s morality police.
The months long movement posed one of the biggest threats to Iran’s ruling clerical regime in more than a decade after authorities violently repressed it.
The ministry said in a statement that it was happy to learn that Madame Fariba Adelkhah, a researcher at the International Research Centre at Sciences Po who was imprisoned in Iran, was released this evening.
The foreign minister of France again demanded the immediate release of all French people jailed in Iran, as well as the release of seven French hostages.
The ministry spokesman said it is “very worried” about the health of Benjamin Brire and Bernard Phelan.
This politics of state hostages carried out by the Islamic Republic of Iran is reprehensible and can not but have a negative impact on our relations with Europe, the spokesman said Thursday.