The fire that erupted in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison was extinguished after several hours, the Associated Press reported on Sunday quoting Iran’s state media IRNA.
Videos showing flames and smoke rising from the prison went viral on Saturday night, as the country-wide protests over the death of a 22-year old Kurdish woman entered their fifth week. Explosions and gunshots could also be heard in the videos. Some groups also took to the streets, circulating videos showed.
Iran’s state media said that nine detainees were injured during the incident, but no-one had escaped. The governor of Tehran claimed that the fire was caused by a fight amongst the prisoners.
Housing political prisoners and anti-government activists, Evin Prison has gained a reputation as a symbol of the repression of the Iranian regime.
The prison was blacklisted by the US government in 2018 for serious human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch has accused the prison authorities there of using threats of torture and of indefinite imprisonment, as well as lengthy interrogations and denial of medical care for detainees.
Meanwhile, reports from the country’s Kurdish populated regions in recent days indicate a ramped up crackdown against protestors. Seven people were killed this week during the protests, according to human rights groups.
Reuters reported that Iran had deployed members of the Basij militia in Kurdish areas. The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia set up by the founder of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.
Reuters said it could not verify videos circulating on social media which allegedly showed Basij members beating protesters in Kurdish areas.
Aziz Veisi, a famous Kurdish singer, was arrested on Saturday, two days after he published a song about the fatalities of recent protests in Iran and Kurdistan, human rights group Hengaw reported.
“Unfortunately, today my father was summoned by the 16th branch of the Kermanshah court. According to the information we have, he is in detention of the security forces in Kermanshah,” his son said in a video he posted on Instagram.
Iran’s Kurdistan region (Rojhilat) is playing a major role in the current uprising, sparked by the death of Jina (Mahsa) Amini after being arrested by the morality police in Tehran for disobeying the hijab law.