Open Letter Calls for Iran to Release Women Political Prisoners During Pandemic

Vice President Heidi Hautala together with Raoul Wallenberg Centre and other international institutions calls on Iran to free its female prisoners of conscience as Coronavirus spreads in prisons.

While Iran is suffering immensely due to the virus, the situation is significantly worse in Iran’s prisons. In February, the UN released a report documenting how the unsanitary and overcrowded prison conditions in Iran were causing the spread of infectious diseases.

It seems that the women’s ward in Evin Prison, where a large number of the female prisoners of conscience are detained in cramped and unsanitary spaces, run out of medical and cleaning supplies already some over a month ago. These prisoners of conscience are confined to a room with 18 women and sleep on triple bunk beds with little space in between. They are at an even greater risk than the general prison population, as their wellbeing is already often compromised by torture, denial of medical treatment, other ill-treatment and their own hunger strikes.

At least ten prisoners have reportedly died of the virus, though the numbers cannot be verified as authorities have denied outside observers access to prisons. In the letter Vice-President Hautala urges the Iranian authorities to immediately release a number of known prisoners of conscience, along with any other
political prisoners, to save their lives.

The listed female prisoners are leading human rights defenders, lawyers, educators, writers, artists, and environmentalists, who have been sentenced to harshest prison sentences in Iran’s history.