With a capacity now detaining 15,000 people, the Evin Prison has built a reputation of being Iran’s most notorious prison.
Located in northwestern Tehran, the facility has been nicknamed “Evin University” due to the large number of intellectuals, political prisoners, journalists and academics that have been incarcerated there.
This article is based on the following report, part of the Inside Iran series by Al Arabiya News Channel
It was the subject of the 2014 film “Rose Water,” written and directed by U.S. TV personality Jon Stewart, which told the story of an Iranian-Canadian journalist who was detained after covering the protests that broke following the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Maziar Bahari survived 118 days in detention and was released after a confession he said was extracted after days of physical and psychological torture.
Bahari’s account mirrors that of human rights organizations which attribute the prison’s notoriety to the brutality of the guards.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a prominent opposition group based in Paris, describes it as “hell on earth.”
The first prisoners entered Evin in 1971 under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
He used it as a detention center for his opponents, and Evin could only hold 320 prisoners back then.
After the 1979 revolution, the Iranian leadership used it to quell its own political opponents.
Human rights activists say they have documented systematic abuses there, including torture.
Iranian - Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died in Evin due to what her family said was an injury sustained during torture.
More recently, a wave of assault was reported to have taken place on 2014 April 17, in an incident local activists called “Black Thursday,” according to Amnesty International.
Prisoners held in Section 350 of the prison, where political prisoners and intellectuals are usually held, were subjected to assault, beatings, verbal abuse and some of those injured were denied access to medical care.
“Security officials responded with an appalling level of brutality to the protest at Evin prison, beating prisoners, dragging them along the floor and verbally insulting them. Subjecting prisoners to such ill-treatment is a gross abuse of a prison official’s power,” Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program said.
Despite its history, the mayor of Tehran plans on converting Evin into a park, a decision that was met with mixed reactions.
Moving the 15,000 prisoners out of Tehran may cause more hardship for the detainees and their families, one opinion piece in the Asr-e Iran news website said, according to the BBC.
While the Ebtekar newspaper said that “converting the prison into a museum or park has been a long-time wish of many citizens,”
“It is good news as Evin is among the few regions in Tehran that has good weather and the city's residents could make good use of the park.”SHOW MORE