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Iran: Qarchak prison, women attempt self-harm due to horrid conditions

Around 200 female prisoners detained in the notorious Qarchak Prison near Tehran detailed the horrid conditions of the prison in a letter to Tehran’s Director-General of Prisons. In the August 16 letter, the women said that they had refrained from eating prison food in protest to current conditions.

In the letter addressed to Heshmatollah Hayat al- Ghaib, the female prisoners cited the low quality of prison food, the high price of food and clothes and the prisoners’ lack of access to sanitary items and clean drinking water.

Qarchak Women’s Prison located on the Tehran-Varamin Highway, holds approximately 2,000 women and some children. The prisoners, detained in Section 5 in Qarchak Prison, wrote that due to horrific conditions, some prisoners had taken to injuring themselves, a harmful way to cope with emotional pain, intense anger and frustration.

Other prisoners take handfuls of tranquilizer pills to deal with their emotional stress. Still others have been forced to work for their cellmates, washing their dirty laundry, to make enough money to buy their essentials.

The prisoners wrote that since their families were banned from bringing them clothes from outside of prison, they were forced to buy high priced, low quality clothing from the prison shop. The women wrote that prisoners in Qarchak Prison, also known as Shahre Rey Penitentiary, “suffered for two weeks” before last month’s prison inspection in an attempt to make a show of good conditions at the prison.

International rights organization or independent local observers are not allowed to visit Iranian prisons. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), each building in the prison hold about 200 to 300 female prisoners, disregarding the rules of segregation of prisoners by age and crime.

A day before this, political prisoner Atefeh Rangriz also detailed shocking conditions at the prison in an open letter writing that “Qarchak Prison was a nickname for hell”. There were also several reports of non-political inmates physically attacking political prisoners, mostly on orders of prison officials.

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