Iran: RSF condemns the conditions in Gharchak women’s prison, where two journalists are being held


In Qarchak Prison we are denied the basic human needs, the right to breathe clean air and drink clean water,” the journalist Narges Mohammadi is quoted by her husband Taghi Rahmani in a post on his telegram channel on February 14th.

The husband of Ali Motalebzadeha photojournalist and vice president of the Press Freedom Defense Association, who is also in Qarchak, reported in a tweet Earlier this month, sanitation conditions at the prison have deteriorated even further as a result of another Covid-19 outbreak and 15 staff are currently infected.

Mohammadi and Motalebzadeh were both transferred last month from Evin prison, located in a northern suburb of the city, to Qarchak prison in Varamin, a southern suburb of Tehran.

In section 8 of Qarchak prison, where both journalists are being held, an asthmatic prisoner has contracted Covid-19. In her husband’s note, Mohammadi said: “When I arrived, I was put in solitary confinement. The water was so bad that I couldn’t drink it. I was forced to drink tea, which made me nauseous and vomit. The same water is used for everything in prison.”

Many prisoners, including journalists, are in danger of death in Iran.said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran-Afghanistan desk. “Forty days after the death of Baktash Abtin due to lack of treatment in Evin prison, the lack of any response from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran is more than worrying. The appalling conditions of prisoners in Qarchak, both from a health perspective and in terms of communicating with their families, need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The Iranian authorities must cooperate unconditionally with the United Nations and honor their international obligations.”

After the writer and journalist Baktash Abbot died on January 8 because he was not treated after contracting Covid-19 in Evin prison, RSF called on the UN to set up an independent international commission of inquiry into his death.

forms of persecution

Qarchak, a former men’s drug treatment center that was converted into a women’s prison in 2010, is notorious for its appalling hygiene, which violates all international human rights treaties. It currently houses at least 1,200 women in eight sections. RSF has learned that the recent Covid-19 wave has exacerbated the situation and increased the risks for vulnerable prisoners.

A third dose of vaccine was given a few days ago, but only to some of the prisoners‘ Mohammadi said of her husband. “Those who test positive are being quarantined without special care in the prison’s unheated gymnasium with no beds.

Mohammadi and Motalebzadeh also report that the prison’s sewage system is not just a “unbearable” nauseating stench, but also ammonia and another type of gas causing breathing problems for the detainees.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is ranked 174th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.


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