At least eight people were injured in a fire at Evin prison in northern Tehran, Iranian media IRNA reported. A large plume of dark smoke was seen rising near the prison in several videos posted on social media on Saturday evening.
The fire has been brought under control and “peace is maintained”, Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri told IRNA, adding that the fire was started by prisoners. Tehran’s Evin prison is a notoriously brutal facility where the regime incarcerates political dissidents.
“Now the prison situation is completely under control and peace is maintained in the prison complex and the streets around the prison are guarded and under control,” Mansouri said.
An Iranian security official said ‘thugs’ set fire to the prison’s clothing warehouse, IRNA reported earlier.
Activist group 1500tasvir reported that in videos posted on social media, gunshots were heard and Iranian special forces were seen heading towards the area where the prison is believed to be.
The Iranian official said the “rioters” had been separated from the other prisoners and the other detainees had returned to their cells, IRNA reported.
CNN cannot independently verify the situation.
Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International replied on Twitter to social media videos with a reminder to Iranian authorities of their “legal obligation to respect and protect” the lives of prisoners after the fire.
Callamard noted that the prison is “notorious” and retweeted a post from journalist Jason Rezaian whose “544 Days” podcast chronicles his time incarcerated in the prison.
“Evin is no ordinary prison. Many of Iran’s best and brightest have spent long periods confined there, where brave women and men are denied their basic rights to speak truth to power,” Rezaian said. wrote. “The regime is responsible for what is happening to those inside right now.”
Speaking to state broadcaster IRIB, Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi said the ‘conflict’ at the prison was unrelated to protests that swept the country following the death of a young woman in jail.
In September, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being detained by the country’s vice squad for not wearing her hijab properly. Iranian authorities have since unleashed a brutal crackdown on protesters, who have united over a series of grievances with the country’s authoritarian regime.
“Today’s prisoner conflict has nothing to do with the recent riots, and basically the neighborhood related to security prisoners is separate and distant from the prisons of robbers and financial convicts where the fire and the conflict took place,” Salehi said.
According to the Tehran prosecutor, Wards 7 and 8 were overcrowded and the main problem was the fire – which he said was started by some prisoners. The prison and surrounding streets are now under control, he said.
Witnesses previously said Iranian security forces beat, shot and detained students at Sharif University in Tehran. Last month, nearly two dozen children were killed in protests, according to a report by Amnesty International.
At least 23 children – some as young as 11 – were killed by security forces in the last 10 days of September alone, the report said.
Earlier this week, an Iranian official also admitted that students participating in street protests were being detained and taken to mental institutions.