Outspoken death row political prisoner Navid Afkari and his two brothers were transferred to a high-security section in a prison in southwestern Iran to stifle their voices.
Navid Afkari’s letters and voice messages from prison, stressing that he was tortured to make false confessions, have led to a global campaign for the termination of his death sentence. The 27-year-old wrestling champion and his two brothers were transferred to a high-security section in Shira’s Adel Abad Prison last week.
According to the Human Rights News Agency, the Afkari brothers were beaten before their transfer.
They have now been effectively cut off from the outside world, including from their concerned family. The Afkari brothers have been taken to the “Guidance” Section, notorious for its horrid conditions and lack of minimum facilities. There have also been numerous reports of suicide, rape, and murder in this section. According to the Human Rights News Agency, the lives of the Afkari brothers are in danger.
The Guidance Section
The Guidance Section is about 50 square meters and consists of four 12-meter cells. Each cell can hold 10 to 12 prisoners but up to 30 prisoners are sometimes kept in each cell. The section is used for prisoners with violent tendencies or prisoners who break prison rules. This includes death row prisoners who murder other prisoners inside the prison to delay the implementation of their death sentences or mentally unstable prisoners who physically harm other prisoners.
Prisoners heads are shaved upon entrance and they are given castor oil to excrete the drugs from their system. Prisoners are not allowed to take any clothes, books, or other belongings with them. Inmates are given a green prison uniform upon entrance. Most of the uniforms are bloody due to attempts at suicide and physical violence by previous inmates.
Reports indicate that older inmates have been known to smuggle sharp objects, such as razor blades, under their tongues, which they use to commit suicide, attack other prisoners, or for self-defense.
Prison guards do not intervene under any circumstance to stop the physical violence between the prisoners. In some instances, prisoners were only removed from the section when they were on the verge of death or already dead.
Each cell has a lightwell and no ceiling. When it rains, water leaks into the cells, wetting the inmates.
The bathroom is at the end of each cell, separated by a stone wall. Most of the time the faucet is broken. The only shower in the cell has cold water all year round.
Inmates are deprived of blankets, pillows, and heating or cooling facilities. Prisoners are not even simple sanitary items such as towels, soaps, or shampoos. Prisoners use the threadbare filthy carpet to cover themselves when cold. Their food is rationed prison food, but they are not given eating utensils.
Prisoners are denied access to phones, fresh air, or any other recreational facilities such as TVs or exercise equipment. Inmates are banned from any outside visitors for six months after entering the section. These include visitations from behind glass panels, in person visitations and conjugal visits.
In very few cases, inmates are taken to the prison guard’s office for a short phone call with their family. These are controlled calls, and prisoners are only allowed to make limited conversation and use specific words such as “I am well” or “the food is good”.
Navid Afkari was sentenced to two executions, prison, and lashes while two of his brothers were sentenced to overall 81 years of prison and lashes over protests in 2018. Navid, Vahid, and Habib Afkari Sangari were detained for their participation in nationwide protests in August 2018.
The 27-year-old national wrestling champion was charged with the so-called murder of a security agent. His 35-year-old brother Vahid was sentenced to 54 years and six months of prison and 74 lashes, for complicity in murder among other charges while the third brother, 29-year-old Habib, was sentenced to 27 years and three months of prison, and 74 lashes.
Navid’s death sentence has been confirmed by the Supreme Court and his request for appeal was rejected.