Prisoner of Conscience “Not Heard From” Since Transfer to “Punishment” Unit in Adelabad Prison
After refusing to break his hunger strike, prisoner of conscience Hossein Sepanta was transferred to the Intelligence Ministry’s wing inside Adelabad Prison in Shiraz, Fars Province, on July 10, 2019, on orders of the facility’s director, the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.
“His cellmates have not heard from him since he was moved to the punishment unit,” a source with information from inside the prison told CHRI on July 14. “They don’t know if he is still on hunger strike or not. The conditions inside this unit are very different. There are no phones to make calls. Basically, prisoners are sent there to be punished.”
“Unfortunately, he was beaten during interrogation and he said one of the interrogators struck his back with the palm of his hand and since then he trembles and has problems keeping his balance when he walks,” added the source who asked not to be identified for security reasons.
Adelabad Prison’s “punishment” unit was built in a separate part of the main facility for the Intelligence Ministry in 2014, according to the Majzooban Noor website, which provides news on Sufi Muslims imprisoned in Iran.
Lacking fresh-air facilities, it includes a cell that is about 35 sq. meters (377 sq. ft), which is used to hold political prisoners and prisoners of conscience
Sepanta, who has been serving a 13.5-year prison sentence since 2013, began refusing most food and water in May to protest being denied parole, according to the source.
Born to a Muslim family, he changed his last name to “Sepanta” after converting to the Zoroastrian religion.
He was first arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 2000, at the age of 20, and sentenced to six months in prison under the charges of “propaganda against the state” and “membership in anti-state groups.” He was arrested based on comments he made on social media, according to the source.
In 2013, Sepanta was rearrested by the IRGC on several charges including “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security” and sentenced to 13.6 years in prison. He has served six years and qualifies for parole but his request has been denied.
According to former imprisoned journalist Jila Baniyaghoob, Sepanta’s case deserves more coverage.
“The prison’s director told him: ‘This isn’t a prison in Tehran, so don’t expect the news to spread everywhere. You will stay here. and rot and die here. and no will find out,’” Baniyaghoob tweeted on July 10.