In the course of this fire, scores of prisoners either died in the blaze or were injured. Some of them are reported to be in critical condition. On frequent occasions in the past, the clerical regime has deliberately set prisons on fire, including the prison in Rasht, in the northern Gilan province, to murders many political prisoners.
Mashad's Vakil-Abad prison is one of the most notorious prisons in Iran, where tens of thousands of Mojahedin prisoners have been either brutally tortured or executed so far.
Today, the mullahs' news agency quoted Morteza Bakhtiari, the current head of Prisons Organization as saying: "under the current circumstances, there is not enough room to imprison all those convicted across the country." On June 18, he had announced: "We will use 20% of the prisoners in agricultural work," stating that soon, camps will be set up in desert areas with adverse weather conditions in the provinces of Kerman and Sistan-Baluchistan for this purpose.
Due to widespread arrests under various pretexts, the clerical regime is faced with severe shortage of space in the prisons. In an interview in June last year, Assadollah Lajevardi, the butcher of Evin and the ex-head of Prisons Organization, admitted that there were 140,000 prisoners in Iran and that due to lack of space, libraries, cultural clubs and even mosques had been transformed into prisons.
Reports from Iran and acknowledgments by regime's officials bespeak of acute space shortages and the lack of minimum accommodations for prisoners. Some prisons house up to seven times their capacity.
The Iranian Resistance calls for the dispatch of an international delegation to Iran to investigate the cause of the fire in Mashad prison, the reasons for the delay to put out the fire and the inhuman conditions in other prisons in the country.
Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran
July 15, 1998