Dubai, Oct. 23 (AP) Iran on Sunday released security footage it says came from its infamous Evin prison the night a fire broke out that killed at least eight inmates, an effort to clarify the government’s narrative amid growing international pressure.
Purported CCTV footage of last weekend’s chaos has only added to the mystery of what happened the night of the detention center fire. Evin Prison is notorious for holding political prisoners, including protesters from the protests that have rocked the country for the past five weeks. Rights groups estimate thousands have been swept away since the unrest began following the September 16 death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman in police custody for allegedly failing to adhere to the strict Islamic dress code. from the country.
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Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency aired an interview with an unnamed senior prison guard who claimed a riot broke out as prisoners convicted of financial crimes tried to escape. However, no commotion or violence is visible in the released CCTV footage. Quick glimpses show crowds of inmates rushing through cell doors. Some men look panicked as smoke fills the room and a siren wails. One prisoner tries to force the lock of his cell with a fire extinguisher, while another tries with a mop. A man tries to damage a CCTV camera.
The cryptic video and shifting explanations of what happened last Saturday night at Evin prison cast doubt on the government’s version of events. Officials initially said the unrest was fueled by “enemy agents” and some inmates trying to escape. They also claimed that inmates had set fire to a sewing workshop. But in many videos shared on social media, gunshots, explosions and protest chants can be heard.
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Iran’s nationwide protests initially focused on the hijab, or headscarf, imposed by the Iranian state for women, but have turned into one of the most serious challenges for clerics. in power of the country. Protesters clashed with police and even called for the fall of the Islamic Republic itself. Security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the protests, killing more than 200 people, according to estimates by rights groups.
Also on Sunday, Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency alleged that hackers acting on behalf of an unidentified foreign country broke into a subsidiary’s network and gained free access to its email system.
An anonymous hacking group claimed responsibility for the attack on Iran‘s Atomic Energy Organization, demanding that Tehran release political prisoners. The group, calling itself “Black Reward”, said it leaked 50 gigabytes of internal emails, contracts and construction plans related to Iran’s Russian-backed nuclear power plant in Bushehr and shared the files on its Telegram channel. It was unclear whether the hacked system contained classified material.
“Unlike Westerners, we don’t flirt with criminal mullahs,” the anonymous hacking group said in a Telegram post.
Iran has not specified which foreign country it believes was behind the hack, but it has previously blamed the United States and Israel for cyberattacks that impaired the country’s infrastructure.
“These illegal efforts in desperation are intended to attract public attention,” the Atomic Energy Organization said.
Meanwhile, Iran’s main teachers’ association reported that sit-ins had canceled classes at several schools across the country to protest the government’s crackdown on student protesters.
The union has shared photos of teachers holding protest signs reading ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ instead of teaching in classrooms in the Kurdish towns of Sanandaj, Marivan, Kermanshah and Saqez, as well as in Azerbaijan west and in the mountainous provinces of Hamadan, among others.
“Schools have become barracks and tear gas is thrown in the faces of primary school students,” one teacher wrote in a letter shared by the union.
Campuses have long been a flashpoint for unrest in Iran, including during the 1953 student protests under the Western-backed shah and the 1999 pro-democracy protests under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami.
Scattered protests continued at universities across the country on Sunday, footage showed. At the prestigious Sharif University of Technology in Tehran, the scene of an hour-long siege by security forces earlier this month that ended in the arrest of dozens of students, protests erupted when students tore down the barrier separating men from women in the campus cafeteria, a student association said.
“Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!” the massive crowd shouted at the top of their voices, footage showed, throwing their fists in the air. (AP)
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