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The mental health of Reza Malek, Ayub Ghanbarpourian, and other political prisoners jailed in Evin prison is in peril

By Firooze Ramezanzadeh, special to IHRDC’s Inside Iran

(8 February 2012) – According to the latest reports received from Evin prison in Tehran, the mental health of several political prisoners in Evin prison is steadily deteriorating.  

For those on death row, the perils are grave.  Uncertainty about when their execution sentence will be carried out adds to the mental pressure on prisoners sentenced to death. 

Additionally, some of these individuals are subjected to mock execution.  According to several political prisoners who endured mock execution while incarcerated in Evin prison, prisoners are blindfolded and made to stand on a chair.  They then feel a rope placed around their neck.  Unbeknownst to them, the rope is in fact not attached to anything – however since they are blindfolded and cannot see they can only assume it is a noose and that they will be executed by hanging.  Then the chair is suddenly drawn out from under them and they prepare for the worst.  Only when they fall, instead of hang, do they then realize the execution was staged.  The psychological torture of mock executions results in severe and lasting mental harm.

Other pressures of confinement manifest itself in substance dependency issues, as well as irregular sleep patterns and behaviors.  Some prisoners reportedly smoke one to two packs of cigarettes a day.  Many prisoners reportedly scream and shout in their sleep.  Many suffer from insomnia – some complain of intermittent sleep patterns while others, like Reza Malek(Malekian), a former agent of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence who is serving an 11 year sentence since his arrest in July 2001 for attempting to disclose information about Iran’s notorious “Chain Murders”[1], cannot sleep at all.  Reportedly, Malek lies down in his cell but fails to fall asleep every night.

According to sources, another prisoner on death row named ‘Karimi’ has attempted suicide twice.  ‘Karimi’ reportedly demonstrates mental instability when he speaks and causes a lot of noise and disturbance in Evin prison’s Ward 350 most nights.

The treatment of those who have attempted suicide while incarcerated is also indicative of the mental suffering of inmates in Evin prison. Ayub Ghanbarpourian, a political prisoner held in Evin prison’s Ward 350, suffers from excessive shaking of the hands, has difficulty concentrating, and has made several suicide attempts by swallowing pieces of glass.

This 20 year old worker was arrested in May 2009 and detained in Ward 2A of Evin prison, controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).  He was eventually transferred to Ward 350.  Now, almost three years into his detention, Ghanbarpourian remains in an uncertain legal situation and is denied visitors.  His continuing incarceration has put enormous financial strain on his family, particularly in recent months.

Following Ghanbarpourian’s suicide attempts, he was hospitalized in Aminabad hospital in Tehran in handcuffs and shackles.

Reportedly, anyone in Evin prison who attempts suicide is admitted to a mental hospital for two weeks.  In hospital, the prisoners are restrained with handcuffs and their feet are shackled and chained. According to reports received from those incarcerated in Evin prison, the restraints placed on suicidal prisoners worsen the already delicate health condition of these prisoners.

 

[1] The “Chain Murders” refers to an organized campaign of state sponsored assassination of Iranian dissidents from 1988 to 1998 that was reportedly planned and implemented by elements inside the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.  

 

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