IranWire has recently obtained audio files from Tehran’s Evin prison, Iran’s most notorious jail, exposing the very dangerous health conditions in which women locked in ward 209 are living, amid a wave of mass arrests triggered by nationwide protests.
IranWire was able to confirm the authenticity of the audio files after talking to two former prisoners. Two other women who were recently released from the prison were also interviewed. All of them confirmed what is being described in the files.
According to the former inmates and content of the audio files, extreme overcrowding, malnutrition, lack of basic sanitation and neglect of prisoners' health problems are making the ward a perfect breeding ground for infections.
More than half of the women held in ward 209 suffer from fungal and urinary infections, one inmate said.
Nearly seventy days have passed since the start of the anti-government protest movement. According to human rights organizations, more than 16,000 people have been arrested across the country.
Iran has consistently come under criticism from rights activists for overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at its prisons, but the situation has worsened with the new wave of arrests.
In Evin prison’s ward 209, two women arrested during the protests spent some time in solitary confinement with five or six people in one cell, where previously one prisoner was kept, they told IranWire.
"A," a young woman who was imprisoned after security agents raided her home, said the toilets were never cleaned during her weekslong incarceration.
"Evin prison, one of the most luxurious prisons in Iran, is facing many problems now. People are always hungry because the food they give them is very rationed," she said.
Keeping inmates hungry is a usual method of controlling, torturing and harassing prisoners in the prisons of the Islamic Republic.
"A place where you're always hungry is like purgatory. Even in the bathroom…you have no privacy and you have to defecate in front of dozens of other women."
"Sometimes hunger is so pressing that you want to hit your friend's head against the wall," the young woman said.
Empty, bloated stomachs
"B" was rearrested during the protests and sent to Evin prison, where she had previously spent some time.
"Evin used to be heaven compared to what is going on today. This is just Evin. The conditions in other prisons are definitely much more unbearable," she told IranWire.
In June, Narges Mohammadi and Alia Matlabzadeh, two famous political prisoners incarcerated in Evin prison, described the situation there as "torture."
“B” said the health situation in the women's ward “is so bad that almost all women suffer from vaginal and urinary infections.”
“Almost everyone becomes constipated from malnutrition and lack of fiber in the food," she said, adding: “Their stomachs are empty and bloated. All this adds to the pressure put on the detainees during their interrogations."
"The lack of food, constant hunger, lack of fruits and fibers, the excessive dirtiness of the bathrooms and toilets, not having access to a doctor, especially a gynecologist, for women who suffer infectious diseases are the women’s [main] problems in Evin," a prisoner said in a voice note to IranWire.
"It's been about two weeks since my family and a few other people deposited money for us, but they still haven't given us a shopping list so we can order food," the inmate said.
According to this woman imprisoned in ward 209, "none of the detainees are very worried about the sentences they’re going to be handed, but the fact that they have to stay in this really dirty environment is worrying.”
“It's really disgusting."
According to the audio file sent to IranWire, many inmates have languished for 50 days or more in a cell with only 20 minutes of sunlight a week.
"B" said that inmates have to wait for days or weeks before they are able to see general practitioner and have access to essential medicine.