ICHR strongly condemns the government of Iran for its negligence in containing the Coronavirus outbreak in prisons nationwide, and they must be held accountable for leaving the prisoners defenceless confronting Coronavirus.

As the Iranian government struggling to contain an exponential rise in Coronavirus  cases, there are growing concerns for prisoners held in Iran’s overcrowded jails, where healthcare is poor and many prisoners have already compromised health.

The government has announced that they have temporarily released 85,000 prisoners to avoid the risk of Coronavirus outbreak, though that’s a good news, but the prisoners of conscience, including human rights defenders are still in prison under false charges.

There are number of reports that the prisons are infected with the Coronavirus and do to governments shortcomings it’s spreading fast.

The government inability to contain the Covina-19 outbreak throughout the country shows it’s illegitimacy.

As of Friday morning, Iran had almost 1,300 confirmed deaths and more than 18,400 infections of COVID-19, and a doctor on Iranian state-run TV warned more than 3 million people could die across the country if isolation measures were not strictly adhered to.

Reports from inside Iran’s prisons said hundreds of inmates had persistent coughs and high fevers and symptoms of coronavirus, but there were no testing kits available, and they are left completely defenceless with no access to correct facilities, healthcare, and necessary equipment for their health.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced that he will also pardon 10,000 additional prisoners in honour of the Iranian new year on Friday. But no name of any Prisoner of Conscience, human rights defenders, lawyers, and labour rights activists were among the names.

Among them are believed to be hundreds who were arrested during or after anti-government protests in November.

The coronavirus outbreak has prompted calls from the UN for political prisoners, to be released from Iran’s overcrowded cells that at this time of crisis could lead to their deaths.

Conditions inside Iran’s jails have reportedly deteriorated, and has led to large numbers of deaths from the Coronavirus in the country’s overcrowded prisons.

Prison is no place to be when there is a pandemic. There are grave risks to their health if they remains in prison. And Prisoner of Conscience, human rights defenders, lawyers, and labour rights activists should have never been imprisoned in the first place.

At least four political prisoners in Tehran’s Evin Prison have started a hunger strike, led by human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. They are demanding “freedom for all political prisoners” in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Her husband, Reza Khandan, who lives in Tehran with their two children, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran: “Nasrin says, ‘If we’re going to die, let us be by our families’ sides, can’t you let us go even under these circumstances?’”

Iranian officials have not provided any official lists of which prisoners have been released. Nor have they provided any rationale outlining why some have been furloughed while others – including political prisoners and human rights activists – remain behind bars.

ICHR Strongly Calls on Government of Iran to FREE all Prisoner of Conscience, human rights defenders, lawyers, and labour rights activists immediately and unconditionally. Also the Iranian Government must be held accountable directly for any prisoners death in prisons. We also call on other governments to take extra measures to ensure the safety of prisoners.