At least eight people were injured in a fire at the Evan prison in northern Tehran, according to Iranian state media IRNA. Multiple videos on social media on Saturday night showed a large amount of black smoke rising from the vicinity of the prison.
Tehran Governor Mohsen Mansouri told IRNA that the fire was under control and “peace was maintained”, adding that the fire was started by prisoners. The Evan prison in Tehran is a notoriously brutal facility where the regime holds dissidents.
“The situation in the prison is now fully under control, the prison complex remains peaceful and the streets around the prison are monitored and controlled,” Mansouri said.
An Iranian security official said “thugs” set fire to a prison clothing warehouse, IRNA was reported earlier.
The militant group 1500tasvir reported that in videos posted on social media, gunfire could be heard and Iranian special forces were seen heading to the area where the prison is believed to be located.
Iranian officials said the “thugs” had been separated from other prisoners and other detainees had returned to their cells, according to IRNA.
CNN was unable to independently verify the situation.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Agnes Callamard Reply on Twitter The social media video reminded Iranian authorities of their “legal obligation” to “respect and protect” the lives of prisoners following the fire.
Callamard noted that prisons are “notorious” and retweeted a post from journalist Jason Rezaian, whose “544 Days” podcast talks about his time in prison.
“Evan is no ordinary prison. Many of Iran’s best and brightest have been imprisoned there for long periods of time, and brave men and women have been denied their basic right to speak the truth to power,” Rezaian wrote. “The regime should be held accountable for what is happening to its insiders right now.”
Tehran prosecutor Ali Salish told state broadcaster IRIB that the “clash” at the prison was not related to the protests that swept the country after the death of a young woman in police custody.
In September, 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died after being detained by the country’s ethics police for allegedly wearing a headscarf incorrectly. Iranian authorities have since brutally cracked down on demonstrators who have united around a range of grievances against the country’s authoritarian regime.
“Today’s prisoner clashes have nothing to do with the recent riots, basically, the wards associated with security prisoners are separate and far from the prisons where fires and clashes occur from thieves and financial criminals prisons,” Salehi said.
Wards 7 and 8 were overwhelmed, and the main problem was the fire, which he said was started by some prisoners, according to Tehran prosecutors. The prison and surrounding streets are now under control, he said.
Witnesses previously said Iranian security forces beat, shot and detained students at Tehran’s Sharif University. Nearly two dozen children were killed in protests last month, according to a report by Amnesty International.
In the last 10 days of September alone, at least 23 children – some as young as 11 – were killed by security forces, the report said.
Earlier this week, an Iranian official also admitted that students who participated in street protests were detained and sent to mental hospitals.