The families of female political prisoners recently transferred to a notoriously harsh prison say they are extremely concerned about their relatives because of the poor conditions, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.
Around 200 of these prisoners were transferred to the Gharchak prison in Varamin, south of Tehran, which is under the supervision of the security forces. Relatives of the prisoners say their greatest worry is that those forces do not answer to any prison authority.
Naseh Faridi, spokesman for the Students Committee for Defense of Political Prisoners, which is based outside Iran, told Radio Farda on May 11 that "as the [security forces] are the supervisors of the Gharchak prison, just like they are at the Kehrizak prison, there is a possibility of the very same violations of human rights occurring in the Gharchak prison."
Faridi, who is a construction engineer, says he was offered a construction contract for the prison when he lived in Iran, and he knows that it has very poor conditions and is located in a place with extreme weather conditions.
Shabnam Madadzade, Fariba Kamal Abadi, and Mahvash Sabet are among numerous other political, social and student activists who have been recently transferred to Gharchak prison.
Madadzade, the ex-political head of the Islamic Students Association of Teachers Training University of Tehran, was able to meet with her sister for a few minutes recently.
Madadzade's father told Radio Farda that "they were able to meet for eight minutes, during which Shabnam talked about the prison conditions. She said [prisoners] are not provided with proper drinking water or a showering facility, and they also have space problems."
Shabnam's father believes she had sounded much more hopeful and lively before being transferred to Gharchak. "I was able to converse with her over the telephone [on May 11] for a mere minute; and she sounded quite depressed and hopeless," he said.
Madadzade added that "I referred to the judicial authorities about this matter today, but they have remained ignorant to the appeals of all the families of the political prisoners."
He said that after not getting a proper answer they were only able to leave a letter for the judicial authorities.
Lawyer Abdulkarim Lahiji told Radio Farda on May 11 that "after eight years, once again a reporter, to be selected on May 30 by the UN, will be sent to Iran to observe the prison conditions in Iran as well as other human rights conditions. He will begin his inspection in early June."
Lahiji said that given the recent policies of Iran, it is unclear whether the Iranian authorities will allow the UN official to perform a thorough or free inspection.