- (Photo: Reuters)
A Christian pastor is among 30 prisoners who were badly beaten during a raid in Iran's notorious Evin Prison last week, when prison guards are said to have assaulted inmates who protested against an aggressive inspection.
"CSW is extremely concerned by the reported events in Evin Prison. The treatment meted out to these prisoners is unacceptable and is in clear violation of Iran's obligations under article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that prisoners should be treated with humanity and with respect for their inherent human dignity. We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate this incident, sanctioning those responsible," Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Operating Officer Andy Dipper said.
According to the Christian watchdog group, Evangelical church leader Farshid Fathi, who is serving six years in prison for what it says are false political charges, suffered a broken foot and toe during the raid. At least 29 other prisoners were also reportedly wounded, with injuries ranging from fractured skull to broken ribs and limbs.
CSW's Kiri Kankhwende told The Christian Post on Wednesday that initially there were reports that the Head of Prisons in Iran had been fired over the issue, but the group looked into it and found out that the reports were false.
Evin Prison has a reputation as one of the most brutal prisons in Iran and in the world. Pastor Saeed Abedini, a U.S. citizen, was initially kept there before being transferred to another prison in Iran to serve an eight-year sentence.
The latest incident, which reportedly occurred last week at Evin, involved over 100 prison guards who "unleashed unprecedented violence" on the prisoners of Ward 350. The inmates had apparently been protesting against an aggressive inspection that lasted over five hours.
Fathid told ELAM Ministries after the incident: "Today I celebrate our Lord's resurrection in a mixed feeling of joy and pain in a different way and in a different place. My left foot is in a cast after they broke it last Thursday in violations they applied against helpless prisoners under the excuse of inspections. After three days of pain, finally they took me chained and shackled to a hospital on Easter morning. Though I was in a dire pain, I took it as a gift from our Lord to get out of prison even for few hours."
The Christian pastor, who is the father of two children, was sentenced to six years in prison in February 2012 by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran for being a "chief director of a foreign organization in Iran and raising funds for the organization," an accusation that has been denied by Christian advocacy groups.
Fathid shared last year of the mental torture he has been subjected to in Evin. A story from Mohabat News in August 2013 read:
"In order to put him under mental pressure, his interrogators and prison guards lied to him in saying that they had arrested his wife and that his father had a heart attack."
CSW's Dipper said that the watchdog group is urgently calling for the release of the inmates in Evin currently held in solitary confinement, and for adequate medical treatment to the injured.
"Furthermore, we request that the Iranian regime releases all prisoners of conscience held in Evin and other detention centers immediately, including members of religious minorities imprisoned on false political charges," he said.