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Prison Memoirs

Account of Mohammad Sharifi Moqadam from Fashafuyeh Prison

Mohammad Sharifi Moqadam / Translation by Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
Abdorrahman Boroumand Center
June 24, 2019
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Yesterday morning when I was leaving the ward to go to visitation, I noticed a young adolescent in a corner of the corridor whom the duty officer had stopped and was talking to. In those few moments, I learned that his name was Nima and that he had recently been transferred to the ward. As the duty officer later recounted, “Nima was 16 years old and had been in detention for about two weeks; he had spent about 10 days in quarantine, and he had now been transferred to Hall 3”. “What were you telling Nima this morning?” I asked him. He responded: “First I got his info. Maybe the social workers can do something for him. Then I talked to him about pills, drugs, and offenses, and I mostly talked to him about sodomy. That’s all. I told him so that he would be careful. They really get tokids like that very quickly. And we work 24-48: We have a 24-hour shift then we’re off for 48 hours. I look after him myself on the days I’m here, but it’s a free for all the other two shifts.” Even though officers are not allowed to talk to us on the Warden’s orders, he is among the few officers who stays for a few minutes every time he brings our food rations, and we chat.

  • I don’t know whether you light a cigarette and smoke as you read this, or curse heaven and earth after every couple of sentences, like I do.

  • He says: “Just last night, the TV was showing the Head of the Judiciary Branch and the Head of the [Prisons] Organization at the Rehabilitation and Education Center, saying ‘thank God there are few [kids] here’.” I say: “I’m writing a piece on kids.” “Will it have any effect?” he asks. “[It might], it won’t be totally ineffective,” I respond.

  • Fashafuyeh Prison (Greater Tehran) is located in the hot and dry region of Hassanabad-e Qom. To be more precise, it’s a few kilometers from the airport and when prisoners are in the yard, they count the number of airplanes that fly over each day, to pass the time. From the Kahrizak subway station, you can get to the Prison taking a single taxi; and if you’re driving, as you’re on the Qom Highway, there is spot where you have to make a right to get to the airport; all you have to do is turn left and you’ll be able to see the Prison watchtowers.

  • The Prison has four active wings to house inmates, each wing containing about ten wards. Each ward is composed of 16 rooms (8 rooms to the right and 8 rooms to the left, each room having 5 three-level beds, for a total of 240 beds), 16 showers, and 18 toilets at the far end of the ward, where three or four are always used to do heroin and a number of them are out of service. Each ward usually has 500 people, which is more than twice the ward’s capacity. What is noticeable in most of these wards is the presence of adolescents. Even though the large number of young inmates has forced the Prison to establish three wards called “Adolescents Ward” in each wing (wards that are supposedly reserved for those born after 1997), there are individuals in these wards, known among the prisoners as the “butterflies ward”, ranging in age from 15 and 16 to 30 and 35.

  • A number of individuals under the age of 18 at Fashafuyeh Prison are Iranian children without birth certificates and Afghan children without identification papers; the lack of documentation for proof of age is the reason why they have been sent to Fashafuyeh instead of the Rehabilitation and Education Center. Adolescents who are incarcerated for the first time, are devastated by physical abuse, by being deprived of their freedom and being with their family and friends, and by being forced to live in a crowded place. These adolescents are forced to work without pay; they become drug addicts and are subjected to sexual abuse.

  • Cash flow from drugs in each ward is around 100 million Tumans per week. The drugs come into the ward in three ways: “Location”, which is a negligible amount and is dealt privately through the duty officer; “Anbari” (“storing”); this consists of drugs the prisoners swallow and carry in their stomach or hide it in their rectum and bring it either at the time of their arrest or when they’re on their way to court, which is also negligible. The majority of the drugs in prison are supplied in the “Partabi” (“projectile”) fashion: A package is thrown into the yard by prison officials at a specific time. The price of a package of drugs that is worth 5 million Tumans increases to 50 million Tumans once it’s thrown into the prison yard.

  • “It was about 3 o’clock in the morning when the altercation started. It was sharp objects and daggers that were hitting the bodies, and flasks and glass being thrown around. It lasted until around 4:30 AM. Nine people were taken to the infirmary. Over what? Over whether a young boy should spend the night in this room or in the other room.” For unmarried individuals, sexual intercourse with a woman costs 500 thousand Tumans each time: The prison cleric can introduce someone to the prisoner for temporary marriage or religious visitation. Also, some people have their own “Takpar” boy (a boy that stays with one person) in wards; they take on the boy’s expenses and the boy [belonging to that person] is respected.