A large fire ripped through Tehran’s infamous Evin prison on Saturday night as gunshots and explosions were heard, with hundreds of political prisoners among the inmates.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran said it received reports of a “shooting” in Evin prison on Saturday evening which continued at 10:00 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. Washington DC time and 7:30 p.m. London).
The human rights watchdog group said gunshots were first heard in Ward 7 of the prison, housing inmates convicted of financial crimes, and then the confrontation spread to other areas. other parts of the prison.
At this early stage, this information cannot be verified and it is unknown who was firing weapons inside the prison.
The Revolutionary Guard-affiliated Tasnim news agency quoted a judiciary official after midnight as saying a riot broke out in the wards where common criminals are held and where sections holding political prisoners are separated. However, footage showed a huge fire engulfing most of the complex. The official also claimed that the incident was unrelated to the ongoing protests in the country and that calm returned to Evin around midnight.
These statements also cannot be independently verified until perhaps Sunday, when human rights monitors and other credible sources provide more concrete information.
A video tweeted from Tehran appears to show some objects being thrown at the prison remotely and once they land an explosion occurs. If security forces were firing tear gas or another device at the compound, that may explain why the fire spread quickly. Here is this video:
Special police riot forces move towards Evin around 10:00 p.m. local time
The new Fars agency, also affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, confirmed after 10 p.m. local time that a “riot” had taken place in the prison by “common criminals” who clashed with guards and burned down the prison’s clothing depot. Fars said order had been restored and firefighters were extinguishing the blaze. However, eyewitnesses continue to report explosions and gunshots within the compound.
The anonymous group organizing the recent protests, called Tehran Youth, issued a statement calling on people to surround the Evin compound and not allow government forces to enter “to prevent a human tragedy”.
This video shows the large fire and the explosion can be heard.
An interesting observation from some Tehran residents noted that the government opened internet access and within minutes the news of Evin Prison spread.
Photos and videos showed a large fire in the compound and some reports said guards from the observation towers had fled the prison amid the spreading blaze. However, some guards still have to be in the jail if shots are fired.
Videos show ordinary people who heard about the incident trying to come to the prison, possibly in a bid to help the inmates. Video showed a large traffic jam of cars honking their horns as they tried to reach Evin. Iran International has learned that security forces fired tear gas at cars approaching Evin. Apparently a tear gas canister hit a car and set it on fire.
People around the prison said special riot police fired tear gas both inside the prison at the inmates who escaped from the buildings and at the crowds gathered outside.
The crowd outside chanted “Death to the dictator”.
An eyewitness said the blasts were so large that the shock waves shattered the windows of nearby homes.
A rescue worker at the scene told the official IRNA news agency that no one died but at least eight people were injured. However, with multiple sounds of explosions and a huge fire, it’s hard to believe any member of the emergency team would have complete information at this point.