Widespread protests against the regime have been ongoing in Iran since Thursday. What began as protests about the sky-rocketing cost of living soon broadened to target government corruption, Islamist rule and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
The government has detained at least 450 people, while 21 people were killed in clashes across the country.
Many of those detained will be sent to special wards for political prisoners. The most notorious of these is Section 350 of Evin Prison located in Tehran. It has been the primary prison housing political dissidents in Iran since it opened in 1972
Among those who have shared its walls is Abdolfatah Soltani. A prominent lawyer, Soltani founded the Human Rights Documentation Center in 2001, an organization formed by five well-known lawyers to offer pro-bono legal assistance to prisoners of rights. The center was shut down in 2008 on the day of a planned ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the universal declaration of human rights. Soltani was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to 18 years in prison. It was later reduced to 13 years by an appeals court.
In 2014 Soltani was placed in solitary confinement after a violent raid on Section 350 by prison guards. One-hundred riot police conducted a surprise search of the ward accompanied by intelligence ministry officials and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the regime’s second army, charged with guarding the Islamic character of the revolution and owners of half the country’s oil and gas reserves (among many other businesses).
When the inmates objected to the search, guards beat them and destroyed their personal items. Over 30 prisoners were injured and 32 were subsequently transferred to solitary confinement, including Soltani.
Soltani’s experience in Evin is typical of prisoners there where beatings, torture, mock-executions, unsanitary and cramped conditions and more are all regular features of life in Evin prison.
For a first-hand account of life in Evin Prison written for Clarion Project by Iranian dissident Shabnam Assadollahi, read A Teenager in Evin Prison: My Terrifying Story
“To many Iranians, the concept of Evin prison is synonymous with political repression and torture,” Gissou Nia, executive director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, told FoxNews.com. “Today, anyone who is perceived to be a threat to the Iranian regime, including human rights defenders … is kept within the confines of Evin and other notorious prisons in Iran.”
However, other activists have called into question Nia’s commitment to human rights, pointing out that she has publicly supported Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on her Twitter account.
In the summer of 2017, the Iranian regime arranged a tour of Evin prison for selected foreign dignitaries to show off the good facilities. Of course, they only showed a small, well-kept, section of the prison and did not allow human rights groups full access.