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Witness Statement: Ali Kantoori

33. Ghezel Hesar had lots of problems. One of the problems was lice. This was very annoying. Despite the fact that I paid attention to my personal hygiene, I eventually got lice. I washed my clothes in cold water every day. Lice usually nest on the rim of clothes and cause severe itching and wounds. Ghezel Hesar had four or five showers for more than 200 prisoners. According to the prison officials, we could shower for three minutes once every other day. But due to the large number of prisoners we could barely take a shower once a week. And we had hot water only between 6 pm and 9 pm. In the restrooms and other places there was only cold water. There was no heating or air conditioning, which meant that it was hot during summer and cold during winter. I saw six or seven drug addicts faint. Nobody helped them. They said, “They’re gonna be ok.”

34. The food had some variety. They gave us ghormeh sabzi and khoresh karafs, none of which tasted like it should. The celery in their khoresh karafs was like tree bark, and it had no meat in it. Instead of meat they gave us soy meat, the likes of which I had only seen in animal feed factories. They also gave us tea. They gave each room two flasks of tea in the morning, and two flasks in the evening. This meant one low-quality glass of tea. The food was horrible. I lost 15 kilos while I was there. Ghezel Hesar is a strange prison.

35. I also coughed for a month and a half, after which they took me to see a doctor [in Ghezel Hessar]. My lung had been damaged. I also suffered psychological damage, for which I am currently taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills. Regarding medical problems, each hall was allowed to send five people to the prison medical facility in a week. The person in charge of the medical facility had the discretion to choose those people. They didn’t have enough medicine, and health services were scarce.

36. There was also a gym and a library in Ghezel Hessar. But only the bullies and those who had good relations with prison staff were able to use them. The prisoners started to treat me differently after they realized I was a political prisoner. Sometimes I engaged in political discussions with them, which were usually one-sided. Once I spoke about religious ideology. Two or three hours later, security officers came and asked about the discussions. But the prisoners did not name me.

37. There were a number of gas burners in the prison. If you had money, you could buy some food at the prison shop, and then if you bribed the ward rep3 with two or three packs of cigarettes, he would let you use the burners. He probably gave the cigarettes to the guards.

3 A ward rep is a person typically chosen from the prisoners. This person is supposed to represent the prisoners in his ward.

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Tagged as:

Imprisonment, Torture, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment, Punishment, Personal Liberty, Arbitrary Detention, Illegal Search and Seizure, Witness Statements