Prisoners Riot in Iran, Region’s Worst Virus Outbreak

Source: Asharq Al-Awsat

 

Prisoners in southern Iran broke cameras and caused other damage during a riot, state media reported Monday, the latest in a series of violent prison disturbances in the country, which is battling the most severe coronavirus outbreak in the region.

Iran’s death toll from the new coronavirus has increased to 2,757 with 117 new deaths in the past 24 hours, a health ministry spokesman told state TV on Monday, adding that the total number of cases has climbed to 41,495.

“In the past 24 hours we had 117 new deaths and 3,186 new confirmed cases of people infected with the coronavirus,” Kianush Jahanpur told state TV, calling on Iranians to stay at home.

Iran had temporarily released around 100,000 prisoners as part of measures taken to contain the pandemic, leaving an estimated 50,000 people behind bars, including violent offenders and so-called “security cases,” often dual nationals and others with Western ties.

Families of detainees and Western nations say Iran is holding those prisoners for political reasons or to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Gov. Enayatollah Rahimi of the southern Fars province as saying a riot broke out at Adel Abad Prison, the main lockup in the city of Shiraz. Rahimi said prisoners broke cameras and caused other damage in two sections housing violent criminals. No one was wounded and no one escaped.

IRNA reported Friday that 70 inmates had escaped Saqqez Prison in Iran’s western Kurdistan province. Prisoners beat guards during the chaos, a local prosecutor said. Several inmates later returned on their own to the prison.

Since the beginning of the year, riots have broken out in prisons in Aligudarz, Hamedan and Tabriz as well, with some prisoners escaping, IRNA reported.

The virus causes mild symptoms, including fever and cough, in most patients, who recover within a few weeks. But it is highly contagious and can be spread by people showing no symptoms. It can also cause severe illness and death, particularly in older patients or those with underlying health problems.

The virus has infected more than 720,000 people worldwide, causing more than 34,000 deaths, according to data gathered by Johns Hopkins University. More than 150,000 have recovered.

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