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Massive fire breaks out in Iran’s infamous Evin prison

BEIRUT – A massive fire broke out on Saturday night at Iran’s infamous Evin Prison, where hundreds of dissidents and hundreds more have been held during the past month of street protests.

Iran’s state news agency IRNA reported that eight people were injured in the fire and was under control Sunday morning, citing officials who insisted there was no connection between the fire and recent demonstrations.

Videos shared on social media showed large plumes of smoke rising from the facility, which sits at the foot of the Alborz Mountains in the capital Tehran. The sound of automatic gunfire could be heard in some of the videos, while others showed a nearby highway filled with cars unleashing a relentless horn, seemingly in protest.

Iran’s semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported that the unrest started when inmates convicted of financial crimes in two wards, numbers six and seven, got into an argument, causing other inmates to take advantage of the chaos and set a workshop and warehouse on fire. . full of clothes.

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Fars reported that a number of inmates had prepared weapons to take on guards, indicating that the fire was planned. The agency said amid the chaos, some inmates tried to escape and entered a minefield north of the prison, leading to explosions.

Tasnim broadcast footage of one of his reporters touring the prison, ostensibly after the fire broke out, to prove that order had been restored. He pauses in front of a clock and points to the time, 2:06, presumably in the morning, as clear evidence that the flames were under control not long after they started.

Evin has been the site of some of the Islamic Republic’s worst abuses, with many inmates describing extensive psychological and physical torture inside. At least one wing of the prison is controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence branch, and another wing is managed by the Ministry of Intelligence.

Families of inmates outside the jail were shelled with tear gas earlier in the day and roads leading to them were blocked by nightfall, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran, a New York-based advocacy group. An ambulance and a bus were dispatched to Evin to take injured inmates to a hospital, the group reported.

Among the detainees at Evin is Siamak Namazi, an Iranian-American businessman who was arrested in 2015, alongside journalists and political prisoners.

“We are urgently following the reports from Evin Prison,” said State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted Saturday. “We are in contact with the Swiss as our protective force. Iran is fully responsible for the safety of our wrongfully detained citizens, who must be released immediately.”

Videos posted online showed people near Evin chanting “Death to the Dictator” while others showed riot police on motorcycles driving to jail.

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The government has cracked down on protesters since demonstrations swept the country nearly a month ago. Internet in the region has been severely disrupted over the past two weeks, along with the mobile network, leaving many in limbo and people clambering abroad to summarize how violence is unfolding.

The protests were sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, in ‘morality police’ custody on September 16. The Iranian government’s response was swift and deadly: An order issued by the country’s top military According to a leaked document obtained by Amnesty International and reviewed by The Washington Post, the body on Sept. to confront”.

Denghanpisheh reported from Phoenix.

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