Kaveh Taheri, freelance journalist and former political prisoners has sent the following letter to Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran.
Adel Abad prison which is located in the fourth section of municipality of Shiraz is one of the largest prisons in the south of Iran. This prison is a high security prison as it was built so that escape would be impossible, unless one escapes while being transferred to court.
In the state owned media and even on the prison’s own website, this prison is lauded as having optimal features and is called “the paradise of Adel Abad”. Indeed. This prison has a section called “Quran” and one called “the adults green ward”. It has a theatre and gymnasium among other things. But all this is for show and its purpose is to completely fool the human rights organizations. Therefore, I hereby try to explain whatever is not said in the state media and websites.
I am Kaveh Taheri, freelance journalist and former political prisoner. I was arrested in September 2012 by the intelligence agents. I would like to write to you about the untold stories of Adel Abad prison.
Adel Abad prison is not only for housing political prisoners or doesn’t have a separated ward for political prisoners. As a matter of fact, political prisoners are mixed in with dangerous and violent criminals who put our lives in danger. This prison has many sections and wards. I am going to explain the notorious basement and dungeons because the parts with better facilities were explained previously by the state media.
In this prison there are numerous sections that were built for housing dangerous and violent offenders; such as the Section 10 and the ward named “Neshat” (meaning happiness). The “Neshat’ section is not as cheerful as its name claims and the majority of prisoners are kept here. There are 30 rooms on 2 floors. Each room is 20 meters. There are 700-1400 prisoners here on average depending on the time of year. In most months about 25-30 prisoners are in one room. That means each prisoner has 1 meter of room only. There are 30 toilets for both floors and 20 showers of which 5 are usually broken; either they are too old or clogged and as such are not usable. In “Neshat” section the prisoners are allowed outside only for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a week.
The food situation is absolutely dreadful. No hygiene, health standards are followed for food preparation. Often we find a mouse or a cockroach at the bottom of the large pot we share. The food’s quality and quantity are both very inappropriate. There is a place in the “Neshat” section which is called the “gas kitchen” which the prisoners use daily for cooking and making tea. This kitchen is very dirty and contaminated with bacteria. It often causes sickness.
The prison is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. This makes the prison situation even more unbearable. This section never has appropriate temperature and no heater or air-condition available there.
The authorities completely fail when it comes to the medical situation. Due to dreadful hygienic conditions, extreme cold or extreme heat and the overcrowding, the prisoners always have some kind of contagious disease. The medical care is not really available and/or is substandard. For example, we are never given enough antibiotics which cause the prisoner to be sick for much longer or not be cured all together. One physician visits 50 or more prisoners in 2 hours.
There are three issues that will shock you in “Neshat” section: Drug dealing, sodomy and gambling. The guards witness these and they also have a hand in. Drugs are easily brought into prison. I have been witness to the guards bringing in drugs into prison….. Drugs easily exchange hands here. Prisoners openly use drugs in their room. Section 10 has almost the same conditions and it is allocated mostly for murderers.
There was a new section which was added in 2012 which was named “ebrat” (edification/ lesson soon not forgotten). This is a place for prisoners of conscience, religious minorities and those who have converted [from Islam]. The name for this ward is very appropriate. This section lacks all proper conditions. These prisoners are kept in isolation from other prisoners.
There is another ward called “Ershad” (guidance). This is where those who have disturbed the peace and security of other prisoners. Ershad section lacks a heating system; prisoners here are not given enough blankets. They have only one toilet in this section and no showers. They have to wash with cold water. They get half of the food ration of other sections. Plus they are constantly beaten, tortured and harassed.