Head of Prisons' Organization acknowledges 40% rise in number of prisoners, 170% rise in number of arrests

In a press conference in Tehran, yesterday, Assadollh Lajevardi, the head of the regime's Prisons Organization, acknowledged the existence of 138,000 prisoners in Iran. He added that due to the high number of prisoners, he had even turned libraries, mosques and cultural centers into prisons.

The figure given by Lajevardi shows a 40% rise relative to the figure of 100,000 prisoners he had made public January 1996. The actual number of prisoners is of course much higher.

In his press conference, Lajevardi revealed that in one month alone (March 21 to April 21) more than 58,000 people had been arrested or imprisoned, i.e., 1,930 every day. The figure shows a 170% rise compared to the figure announced by the Interior Minister earlier in the year.

Last March, Interior Minister Ali Mohammad Besharati announced that in three months (December, January and February) some 65,000 were arrested on drug trafficking charges.

The contradictions in figures given by Lajevardi and other officials display the fact that the actual number of prisoners is far greater than 138,000 claimed by Lajevardi. He said in his conference: For testing each prisoner, the Ministry of Health demands 200,000 rials. If we are to have tests for 468,000 prisoners, we need something like 500 billion rials.

Such an admission reveals that the actual number of prisoners in Iran is at least 468,000. And if we take into consideration the figure of 500 billion rials needed for medical tests, the number of prisoners would rise several-fold.

Many of these prisoners are in fact political prisoners arrested as ordinary offenders. Lajevardi is notoriously known as the "butcher of Evin" for his personal role in the torture and the firing of coup des grace against thousands of political prisoners.

Reliable reports say that since long ago, the mullahs' regime has disbanded many of the wings housing the political prisoners. Instead, they have been tortured and executed as drug traffickers. At the same time, many political prisoners under interrogation are tortured in safe houses in Tehran and other Iranian cities.

The Iranian Resistance draws the attention of human rights organizations to the deteriorating situation of human rights in Iran and calls for an international initiative to open the gates of the mullahs' prisons to international fact-finding missions.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - Paris
June 17, 1997

Secretary General of the United Nations
Professor Maurice Danby Copithorne, UNHRC Special Representative on Iran
The International Committee of the Red Cross
Human Rights Organizations

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