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Demonstrations Continue in Iran as Prison Catches Fire

Unrest continues to spread throughout the country of Iran as thousands of citizens protest the death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini while in police custody. Although the official word is that she died of a heart attack, her family and the world believe she died in a brutal beating at the hands of the morality police.

The latest sign of the country going wild is a major fire at Evin prison,the home to many Iranian political prisoners, where at least 8 people have died and over 60 have been injured. The official line is that the protests that caused the fire are unrelated to the demonstrations across the country, quoting an official who blamed “criminal elements” for the fire. More likely, however, the political prisoners who were sent to Evin for demonstrating on the street are continuing their demonstrations inside the prison.

Sources inside the prison told pro-reform outlet IranWire that“guards fired tear gas all night after the fire broke out. In many cases, prisoners had to break their windows so they could breathe,” IranWire reported. Clearly, the guards were trying to break up something with their tear gas.

The protests have rippled throughout the country for weeks, and some journalists have insisted that the authorities themselves were “setting the prison ablaze intentionally,” as they sent a high profile political prisoner home just before it broke out. Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, the son of Iran’s late former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, was given “early temporary release”, according to his brother.

Many amateur photographers and videographers captured dramatic scenes of the fire and smoke, as well as a myriad of people outside the prison chanting “Death to the dictator.” This has been one of the main slogans during the entire anti-government protest movement of the past several months, which also lends credence to the idea that the fire in the prison was related to the demonstrations across the country.

Early reports that escaping prisoners stepped on nearby land mines were unfounded. There were also reports of projectiles being fired into the prison.

The wife of award-winning film director Jafar Panahi, 62, who is among the dissenters jailed at Evin, asserted that guards fired tear gas at the inmates, according to his wife, Tahereh Saeedi.

Tahereh Saeedi, wife of Panahi, said he was able to call home and say that he and fellow jailed filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof are in good health. Saeedi reported that the long hours between the fire breaking out and when she heard from her husband were agonizing.

The situation in the prison continues to be troubling, with inmates on Ward 8 having no gas, water or bread, and 45 of them being transferred “to an unknown place.”

According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “I think the protests are garnering a lot more support than before. It is understood by all groups in Iranian society. This is mainly because they are targeting young children, which no one accepts, not even people in prisons.”With the atrocities that have been committed by the Iranian government, it is likely that the protests will continue, as well as grow bigger in the future.

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