Conditions women political prisoners face in the notorious Qarchak prison

Qarchak Prison (also known as Shahr’eh Rey Penitentiary) is a women’s detention center with 12 wards, in Varmin, a suburb of Tehran suburb. Criminal defendants and political prisoners are transferred to this prison without any regard for the convention of separation of prisoners based on their “crime”. Poor quality of prison food, lack of basic amenities, sewage problems, salty water and continuous freshwater outage, lack of sanitary facilities, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19, a lack of medical care, as well as refusal and denial of medical furloughs to prisoners so they can get proper medical care privately outside prison and much more. The following report deals with the situation and charges of 17 women defendants and political prisoners who are currently being held in this prison or on temporary leave from Qarachak.

Political prisoners are detained in ward 8 of this prison since October 2016. This ward, which was previously known as the Wards of the Mothers and are currently being held alongside 10 prisoners accused of general crimes. The ward has four rooms, with seven bunk beds to each room. Two rooms in this ward are reserved for political prisoners. This ward has five toilets and six bathrooms that are crumbling and desperately in need of repair and cleaning. One of the toilets is currently in need of repair and is out of order.

The water pressure in this ward of Qarchak prison is very low, causing various problems of its own. For example, if a prisoner is in the shower and another uses the toilet, the flushing cuts off the shower. The sewage in this section is malodorous due to horrible ventilation; only one of the toilets and one of the showers has a small vent that function.

Prisoners who were allowed furlough, have been told not to return until after the pandemic. They report that since the outbreak of COVID-19, two prison staff, including a doctor and a nurse, both tested positive and were quarantined. At least 20 female prisoners in Ward 5 and 6 were also infected with the virus and they were quarantined in the sharia-compliant conjugation visiting rooms which has no special facilities. While many prisoners are said to have suffered from respiratory problems, there is no COVID screening in the prison, no medication, medical staff, nor ventilators available.

Mehrzad Tashakorian, healthcare director general in the Prisons Organization, who has refused to comment on the situation facing prisoners has only said that “he does not have permission to report the number of people who are infected.”

One witness adds that one of the causes of the spread of the virus is the telephone inside the ward. Everyone queues up to talk on the same phone. Everyone queues up to talk on the same phone and because social distancing regulation or precautionary measures like disinfectants are ignored, the virus spreads.

Five telephones are also included in this section, some of which are currently disconnected. Prisoners have the right to use the telephone to communicate with their families only on certain days and for 20 minutes only.

Soheila Hijab and Zohreh Sarv, two political prisoners detained in this ward, have been denied the right to make telephone calls for a long time, and their phone cards have been confiscated by prison officials. Australian, Kylie Moore Gilbert who has also been illegally detained by the Khomeinist regime since September 2018 has also been denied phone and communication access to her family and relatives.

The list of political prisoners in Qarchak prison are as follows:


Nasrin Sotoudeh, at her home in Tehran, in 2013. At the time, she had just spent three years in detention (Abedin Taherkenarhe/epa )
  1. Nasrin Sotoudeh, human rights lawyer who has been unlawfully held at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison was transferred to Qarachak prison on Tuesday, October 20th. The Khomeinist regime’s authorities had falsely claimed that Ms. Sotoudeh was being taken to a hospital for much needed medical care for her heart condition; however according to Reza Khandan, Sotoudeh’s husband, unbeknownst to her family, she was instead transferred to this detention center.

Golrokh Iraee pictured here with husband and fellow prisoner of conscience, Arash Sadeghi
  1. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, Date of arrest: November 2009. Iranian human rights defender and writer Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, sentenced to six years in prison for writing a story about the cruel practice of stoning. She was charged with “Propaganda against the system and insult to the leadership”, Sentence: three years and seven months imprisonment, which is applicable for two years and one month under Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code. Ms. Iraee was previously released from the women’s ward of Evin Prison on April 8, 2019, at the end of her previous sentence. Ms. Iraee was born in 1980 and is the wife of Arash Sadeghi, a civil rights activist who is also imprisoned in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj.

    Marjan Davari
  1. Marjan Davari, Date of Arrest: October 2015. Translator and researcher. She also has a degree in graphic design and painting from Tehran university’s school of art, as well as a master’s degree in research and translation in the field of esoteric sciences and ontology of the East and the West.In 2010, Marjan Davari translated the works of the authors of the schools of thought of the Enlightenment around the world, compiled and compiled a collection in this field. She translated esoteric and divine sciences and enlightenment books and a researcher at the Institute of Metaphysics and Research of the Path of Knowledge.

    She has been charged with corruption on earth, adultery and illegitimate relationship, association and collusion against the system, membership in the mystical sect of Eckankar. She was sentenced to death by Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran, headed by the notorious Judge Salavati. Ms. Davari is 52 years old and single.

    Kylie Moore-Gilbert
  1. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, Australian-British citizen, Date of arrest: Fall 2016, Charge: “Violation of Iran’s national security” Sentence: 10 years in prison. Kylie Moore-Gilbert is an Australian citizen, assistant professor at the University of Melbourne, an expert on political issues in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, and a Cambridge University graduate.Ms. Moore-Gilbert was tried in secret and has denied all charges. Before being moved to Qarchak, she had spent almost two years sleeping on the floor of a cell in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
  1. Elham Barmaki, Date of arrest: July 23, 2012. Charge: Charge of espionage, Sentence: 10 years imprisonment and fines of 25,000 Euros, 70,000 dollars and 40 million Tomans. Ms. Barmaki, a women and children’s rights activist, was transferred to Qarachak from the women’s ward of Evin Prison in mid-October this year. Ms. Barmaki is said to have agreed to parole but was told that she had to put up a $ 300,000 bail in order to be released from prison. However due to the exorbitant amount being demanded for bail she has remained incarcerated.
L-R: Parastoo Mo’ini, Zahra Safaei and Forough Taghipour
  1. Parastoo Mo’ini, Date of Detention: March 26, 2017, accused of “collaborating with one of the opposition organizations (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran)”, he is still in custody indefinitely.
  2. Zahra Safaei, Date of Detention: March 26, 2017, accused of “collaborating with one of the opposition organizations (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran)”, she is in custody indefinitely.
  3. Forough Taghipour, Date of Detention: March 26, 2017, accused of “collaborating with one of the opposition organizations (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran)”, he is still in custody indefinitely. Ms. Taghipour is 25 years old.
Leila Mirghafari
  1. Leila Mirghafari, Date of Arrest: October 2009, charged: “Community and Collusion”, Sentenced to five Years in Prison One million and two hundred thousand Rials equivalent (three million and two hundred and twenty thousand Tomans) was sentenced.

  1. Zohreh Sarv, Date of Detention: December 2009, Charges: “Insulting the leadership, propaganda against the system, society and collusion”, Sentence: three years imprisonment and as a supplementary sentence to four months of effective activity in mobilizing and studying the interpretation of Surah Al-Hujurat, Ms. Sarv was born in 1986.
Parizad Hamidi Shafaq
  1. Parizad Hamidi Shafaq, Date of Arrest: March 2010, charged: “Insulting the Holy, Encouraging and Inciting Violence, and Joining and Acting in an Opposition Group” Sentence: 18 years and 6 months imprisonment, application of article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, the most severe punishment, i.e. seven years and six months imprisonment. This sentence was five years, seven months and 15 days of imprisonment. Parizad Hamidi Shafaq was born in 1982.

  1. Fereshteh Didani, Date of arrest: October 30, 2010 Charge: Propaganda against the regime, Sentence: 6 months imprisonment. Fereshteh Didani was born in 1983, has a bachelor’s degree. Ms. Didani, a women’s rights activist, has been a vocal opponent of the compulsory hijab.
Soheila Hejab
  1. Soheila Hejab, Date of arrest: June 2016. Charges: “Propaganda against the system, association and collusion, disturbing public acknowledgment with the intention of rioting and forming an illegal group”, Sentence: 18 years imprisonment. Pursuant to Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code, she has been handed the most severe punishment, i.e. five years of imprisonment. Ms. Hijab, a human rights and women’s rights lawyer, was re-arrested in December 2017 and was released from prison after serving five months in Adelabad Prison in Shiraz.
  2. Gita Horr, Date of arrest: November 2019, Charges: “Gathering and colluding against internal and external security and propaganda against the system”, sentenced to 6 years imprisonment, of which Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code is five years. Ms. Horr, was born in 1989 and was arrested during the November 2019 protests against the Khomeinist regime.
  3. Samira Hadian, Date of aarest: November 2019, Charges: “Gathering and Collusion, Rebellion against Government Officials, Insulting Officials”, Sentence: 8 years imprisonment. Article 134 of the Islamic Penal Code for five years imprisonment has been applied to her sentencing.
  4. Leila Akbari. Ms. Akbari was arrested during the November 2019 protests. The details of the case and the extent of her conviction are under investigation.
  5. Zeinab Alipour, Date of arrest: December 2019, Sentence: two years imprisonment. Ms. Alipour is 28 years old and worked as a nurse before her arrest.
Raha Ahmadi
  1. Raha Ahmadi, Date of arrest: August 2009, Charge: “Community and collusion”, Sentence: two years imprisonment. Ms. Ahmadi has been on a one-month leave since October 8th.