Jul 31, 2012

Ahwazi: Prisoners To Face Ban On Reading

In overcrowded Karoon prison which lacks basic amenities, security measures have been intensified with the confiscation of all literature following the execution of four political prisoners. 

Below is an article published by Ahwaz News Agency:

Prison authorities have banned access to books, booklets, pamphlets and anything else in the written word in Karoon Prison in Ahwaz. The confiscation of all literature in a prison that lacks basic amenities, such as toilets and adequate food provision, is likely to fuel antagonism between guards and inmates.

According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency, the security environment inside the prison has intensified following the execution of four Ahwazi Arab political prisoners. The four had made a secret video appealing to the UN Special Rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed calling for his intervention to stop Iran's execution binge against Ahwazi dissidents. Karoon Prison witnessed rioting by inmates following the executions.

According to the Meli Mazahdi website, in recent days security units attached to the Khuzestan Prisons Organisation have carried out prison searches without prior notice given to the prison authorities. The political section of the prison is under the control of special forces in order to terrorise prisoners.

Karoon prison has a security and political section that holds the largest number of Ahwazi Arab political prisoners in Iran. The section is cramped with only five toilets shared by more than 300 prisoners of whom around 100 are political prisoners and the rest are dangerous gangsters and drug addicts. The section is over-capacity and many inmates are forced to live and sleep in the toilet areas and corridors. The prison is under the control of the IRGC with prison officials selected from the IRGC. There is a close relationship between Karoon Prison and secret detention facilities run by the Ministry of Intelligence.

There is a lack of access to clean water and prisoners are forced to buy drinking water from guards. Inmates suffer malnutrition caused by inadequate calorific value and no vegetables and fruit as well as food-borne diseases caused by unsanitary preparation. Medical care is insufficient and there is a shortage of medicine. There are routine incidents of physical abuse and theft by guards during inspections.

Zia Nabavi, a student activist arrested for his involvement in the Council to Defend the Right to Education and exiled from Tehran to spend 15 years in ‘internal exile’ in Karoon Prison, said in a recent interview: “In ward 6 of Karoun prison in Ahvaz, at times, I really felt like I was living on the brink of what distinguishes a human’s life from an animal’s. Under those conditions, nothing was more dear to me than [the existence of] a binding law that would guarantee my safety and provide me with personal boundaries for the purpose of thinking and reflecting. If anyone thinks that morals and ethics or customs could play such a role [in place of a binding law], they are entirely mistaken. I, with all my pretension of respect for democracy and intellect, was not prepared to give my friends, who were dealing with the same problems as me, the opportunity to sleep on the bed [in the prison cell] or take a shower- nor was I even ready to offer them such chances out of politeness.”

Solitary confinement is a regular practice to punish prisoners and extract confessions. Iran Briefing states: "There are specials cells at the Karoon prison where political prisoners are psychologically and physically tortured; they are hung upside down and beaten with batons while blindfolded and restrained."

Visitors also complain of abusive treatment by prison officials, including undignified bodily searches. Some family members are refused access to prisoners if they wear traditional Arabic dress. Depriving prisoners of family visits and telephone calls is used as a form of punishment.