Thousands of lives in 'grave danger' after 'explosions' at Iranian prison

Chilling scenes have emerged in Iran after a huge fire broke out on Saturday at a notorious jail where political prisoners and anti-government activists are held.

Numerous videos of the blaze circulating online show plumes of smoke rising from Evin Prison in Tehran amid the sound of an alarm.

Gunfire has also broken out at the jail — which reportedly has a capacity of 15,000 — witnesses say, with many fearing for the lives of those detained inside.

Evin Prison in Iran on fire as people storm the streets.
People have stormed the streets after a fire erupted at Evin Prison in Iran, with witnesses also hearing gunshots. Source: Twitter

A protest broke out on the street soon after, with many chanting “Death to the Dictator!” — a reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — and burning tires, Twitter footage shows.

Witnesses say that police have blocked roads and highways to Evin prison and that at least three strong explosions were heard coming from the area.

Video shows heavy traffic along major motorways near the jail, and many people honked to show their solidarity with protests.

“The news about the fire inside the prison has shaken the city,” Journalist Amid Memarian tweeted alongside footage of people storming a street leading to Evin.

“Many on the streets throughout the city. No trust in the regime and the info it spreads about the incident.”

Iran Human Rights claimed that people “have set off on foot” towards the prison.

“The life of every prisoner is at grave risk,” the group warned on Twitter.

The prison, which has long been criticised by Western rights groups over alleged threats of torture and of indefinite imprisonment, holds criminal convicts as well as political detainees.

Iran official claims 'situation is under control'

Iran’s state-run IRNA reported there were clashes between prisoners in one ward and prison personnel, citing a senior security official.

The official said prisoners set fire to a warehouse full of uniforms, which caused the blaze. He said the “rioters” were separated from the other prisoners to de-escalate the conflict.

The official said that the “situation is completely under control” and that firefighters were extinguishing the flames.

Iranian female prisoners are at their cell in the Evin prison in Tehran, Iran.
Evin prison has long been criticised by Western rights groups over alleged threats of torture and of indefinite imprisonment. Source: AP/File photo

Later, Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi said that “peace” had returned to the prison and that the unrest was not related to the protests which have swept the country for four weeks.

The fire at Evin prison comes after a month of protests across Iran since Amini — a 22-year-old woman from the country’s Kurdish region — died on September 16 while being held for “inappropriate attire”.

At least 233 protesters have been killed since demonstrations began, according to US-based rights monitor HRANA.

Although the unrest does not appear close to toppling the system, the protests have widened into strikes that have closed shops and businesses, touched the vital energy sector and inspired brazen acts of dissent against Iran's religious rule.

With Reuters

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