Iran’s Evin Prison Set on Fire as Protests Spread

TEHRAN— A protest movement against the Islamic Republic entered its second month with no signs of slowing down on Saturday after a fire burned an Iranian detention facility known for housing political detainees, including protestors from the demonstrations sweeping the nation.

Evin Prison has served as a representation of political persecution in Iran ever since it opened five decades ago under the monarchy. Untold numbers of protesters who have marched against the Iranian government since the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in police custody for allegedly failing to follow a stringent Islamic dress code, on September 16 are being held there, according to authorities.

According to Iran’s state television, violence broke out Saturday between incarcerated demonstrators and the guards at Evin Prison, resulting in the burning down of a sewing shop. In multiple videos posted to social media, smoke could be seen rising from Tehran’s Evin Prison, while gunfire and explosions could be heard.

According to official media, Iranian authorities claimed to have under control both the fire and the convicts within the institution by late Saturday night. Despite no fatalities, eight individuals were hurt, according to state media.

The fire and discontent among the Evin prisoners showed how the Iranian rebellion has grown into the young government of President Ebrahim Raisi’s biggest threat. The demonstrations that followed Ms. Amini’s passing first centered on the country’s requirement that women wear the hijab, or head covering, but they have now expanded to call for an end to the strict Islamic rule that was instituted following the nation’s 1979 revolution.

Late on Saturday, it was possible to observe police on motorcycles and emergency response vehicles traveling in the direction of the prison. In front of the expansive complex, which is situated in a heavily populated region of the capital, protesters also engaged in combat with security personnel, who in response used tear gas.

Locals angry about the safety of the captives were enraged by the authorities’ blocking of the key highways leading to Evin.

The Iranian government has intensified the use of force against the protest movement and severely restricted internet access in an effort to shut down the social media platforms that the demonstrators have used to organize and express their disapproval.

According to the video that Storyful, which is owned by News Corp, the parent company of The Wall Street Journal, has verified, protests continued throughout Iran on Saturday. Other videos posted on social media depict protests in Ardabil, a town in northwest Iran, where a teachers’ group claims a schoolgirl was killed after a pro-regime event devolved into an anti-regime demonstration.

The U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Evin prison and its administration in 2018 for “severe human rights abuses.”

As well as harboring outsiders, such as American prisoners of the Islamic Republic, Evin has earned a reputation for doing so. Siamak Namazi has been held at Evin for seven years on espionage-related allegations that Washington has deemed to be unfounded. This month, he received a brief furlough.

Another Evin inmate was Princeton academic Xiyue Wang, who was detained in Tehran in 2016 while looking into manuscripts from a century ago and freed in 2019.

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