IRGC’s Secret Prisons and Secret Killings

Exclusive to Iran Briefing: ترجمه فارسی 

A Report on Crimes against Humanity:

Abstract: Under the totalitarian regime of Iran, the IRGC is increasingly expanding its inhuman repressive activities against innocent citizens by utilizing all possible spaces to create and run its secret prisons, which in the Tehran Province numbers more than 15 and in each county and each provincial capital city there exists more than three such secret prisons. This is a dark side of the crimes against humanity committed by the IRGC as these locations are used to detain, torture, interrogate, rape and even secretly execute men and women suspected of being opposed to the regime.  This practice of hiding hapless victims, in secret prisons away from the view of civil and judicial authorities, is the most heinous crime being perpetrated by the IRGC. Their criminal activity has rendered innumerable social, political, cultural, civil and human rights activists, students and journalists vulnerable to persecution.

The IRGC is a unique political, security and military entity in Iran—which is a power-center in its own right—exercising arbitrary power and playing an arbitrary role in different social spheres. So far, as its composition and functioning is concerned, no organ of state authority has ever been able or is in a position to hold it accountable for its misdeeds. From the early days of its formation until now, it has always been a repressive, coercive and terrorist force and the scope of its operations has now transcended the Iranian borders.

Click here for the graphical chart of IRGC’s secret prisons.

Z 1

           IRGC’s Detection and Prevention Unit

Within its information security division are organs whose members operate         namelessly and facelessly in plain clothes. These operatives who are known as the “Detection and Prevention Unit” are active in different spheres of society at large. They keep surveillance over individuals engaged in multifarious vocations and walks of life—from taxi drivers and road sweepers to university teachers and managers of enterprises—and has created its cells in all administrative departments and public bodies. These personnel completely shun the identity, distinctive marks and the uniform of the regular cadres of the IRGC. In accordance with instructions given during their training and the prescribed code of conduct, such personnel of the Corps are required to resemble, as far as possible, the ordinary folk and should not cause suspicion by their countenance, manners or conduct.

These personnel wear stylish foreign name brand clothing, wear contemporary fashion such asthe belts liked by young men. These are some of the tricks used by the operatives of the Unit for Protection of Information Security of the IRGC to disguise themselves.

The Real Purpose of the Detection Unit

In addition to its multi-sided and ubiquitous presence in the Iranian society, the real objective of this unit is to continuously gather information about social activities and the events and developments taking place in the society at large. Such information is transmitted round the clock, day and night, to the higher officers of the concerned unit.

Within this unit of the IRGC, a specialized cell has been created which has major responsibility for taking cognizance of and keeping track of activities of prominent persons and those holding positions of importance in the society.

In addition to performing its formidable functions within the country in direct coordination with the Ministry of Information to detect, apprehend, torture and eliminate the opponents of the regime, it has established its interrelated and coordinated networks in neighboring countries such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, which carry out terrorist operations to destroy and render ineffective any person or movement which, in their reckoning, may jeopardize the interests of the IRGC. Thus, they abduct suspected individuals and groups within and outside the country and secretly eliminate them. Journalists, students, doctors, university teachers, lawyers and civil society activists are included in the top of the control list of this unit of the IRGC who, in the event of observing any suspicious activity, movement or matters that are not to the liking of the IRGC, are referred to the information security command of the IRGC for arrest and detention.

Their Modus Operandi

Apprehending suspected individuals by the Information Security Unit of the IRGC does not require any court order or consent of organs authorized to approve arrest warrants. All such arrests are made at the absolute will and in arbitrary discretion of the IRGC.

Persons arrested in this manner are invariably transferred to detention sites, which are separate from official and public prisons operating under the supervision of the judiciary and the National Prisons Organization. Ordinarily, these detention sites are built in complete secrecy or are informally designated as such. The secret prisons of the IRGC are also completely separate from the secret prisons maintained by the Information Ministry. In this respect, the IRGC acts independently and arbitrarily. Accordingly, in respect of secret prisons and concealed détenus, it might be said that the IRGC operates as an adjunct of the Information Ministry and intelligence agencies to arrest, detain, torture and eventually secretly eliminate the détenus.

Click here to see a list of secret prisons maintained by the Information Ministry.

Z 2

Secret Prisons Unveiled

 A number of such sites are located within the IRGC training barracks, command headquarters and places which are screened from all sides and placed under strict vigilance. A lot of these sites are used as secret prisons of the IRGC and are generally located far from military complexes in places which are known only to the high-ranking functionaries of the IRGC and the Information Security Unit. These sites exist in the form of residential houses outside cities and in the underground blocks of government complexes, company buildings, and apartments secretly controlled and guarded by the IRGC.

Buildings with varying accommodation space and constructed of material of uneven quality are completely barricaded and no point of entry and exit for persons and vehicles is made because they are meant for the opponents of the theocratic regime/IRGC for interrogation, torture, extraction of forced confessions and eventual execution.

The IRGC also maintains a special section within such prisons, which is specifically meant for the cadres of the IRGC. Those cadres, who for any reason decline to enforce IRGC policies or raise objections against these policies or do something else which is perceived by the IRGC as a threat to its authority, are lodged within this military section of the prison. Most of these former members of the IRGC that are considered dangerous or as a headache for the IRGC, when finally released from detention generally develop heart troubles or eventually die of heart attack or brain stroke. Apparently, their death may appear to be related to natural causes but in fact it is a consequence of the harsh treatment meted out to them by the IRGC to get rid of them.

In addition to secret prisons and detention centers of this type, the IRGC also maintains its own special sections within the central prisons administered by the Directorate-General of Prisons which acts under the direct supervision of the judiciary. In these special sections under the jurisdiction of the IRGC, a number of political prisoners, whom the theocratic regime/IRGC designate as “security prisoners”, are kept. They are completely managed under IRGC’s supervision and control. Neither the chief of the prison nor other jail officers have any executive authority or say or can intervene in these cases as the affairs of this special category of prisoners are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the IRGC.

Another category of secret prisons of the IRGC is located within the police stations and vigilance establishments. Beside the different sections of the vigilance department under the authority of the regular police force where ordinary offenders are kept under custody, there is a building or several places reserved for the IRGC who keep a number of their own détenus for interrogation and torture. The rationale for keeping this category of secret prisons of the IRGC is that police stations and vigilance establishments normally detain ordinary offenders. However, in exceptional cases or emergency situations, a political suspect may conveniently be lodged in IRGC’s section without raising suspicion or attracting public attention.

 Savagery and Barbaric Treatment

The prisoners of the secret prisons are treated in an absolute barbaric and punitive manner. As a matter of course, to extract information from them, they are beaten harshly, tortured psychologically, assaulted sexually and even killed while nobody knows about them and their voices can reach nowhere.

A specialist cadre of security guards, interrogators, torturers, physicians and healthcare staff is attached to these prisons. This specialist cadre possesses advanced professional tools, mostly imported from China and other friendly countries, which are manufactured and supplied for use by the IRGC. These include convulsion producing drugs, injection ampules which transmit rare diseases and drugs which shake the nervous system so as to drive the concerned to commit dangerous acts such as committing suicide. In addition, a series of drugs and specific ampules which induce heart attacks, heart failures and brain strokes are available.  In addition, a large number of instruments and tools are used to inflict physical torture upon the victims.

Torture and Pressurization

The IRGC operatives deployed in these secret prisons do not hesitate to employ any form of inhuman torture to extract confessions from the détenus. What is important for them and the administrators of these secret prisons is to demonstrate their ability to produce reports containing information and confessions forcibly extracted from the helpless political prisoners who are deprived of all their fundamental rights. These prisoners are held in complete secrecy. Nobody knows of their fate or place of detention; they have no communication with their families; they can have no contact with the world outside the prison; and they cannot engage a lawyer for self-defense.

The captives in these prisons are subjected to severe physical beatings which debilitate them and break them down. Some instances of their torture are:
1- Causing severe physical assaults and injuries
2- Deliberately breaking the bones of hands, feet and heads of the prisoners
3- Beating the prisoners with thick cable with their hands and feet tied
4- Inflicting psychological pressure and depriving them from rest and sleep
5- Performing mock execution procedures over the prisoners and putting blind cover over their faces
6- Committing sexual violence against the prisoners
7- Transgressing upon the members of the family of the prisoners before their eyes
8- Threatening the prisoner of defamation in the society
9- Taking nude photos of the prisoner or of his family members and threatening to make them public
10- Forcing the prisoner to make fake TV confessions
11- Burning parts of the prisoner’s body with a hot iron and cigarette butts.

Sinister Role of the Healthcare Unit  

It is ironic that the deployment of an independent healthcare unit in these secret prisons is also a tool used by the IRGC to secure the death certificate and burial permission for such prisoners who die under sustained torture and exhaustion.  These physicians issue certificates under their signatures and seal certifying that the death of a person—who died under torture—was from natural causes due either to heart failure, brain stoppage or suicide. In this way, they cover up their crimes which never get exposed.

Most individuals from the counties of Iran and belonging to minority nationalities like Azeri, Baluch, Arab, Kurd, etc., who raise their voice in favor of their rights and express their demands through political, social, cultural and student forums, are in the first list of the victims of the crimes of the IRGC who end up in their secret prisons.

Their Healthcare Unit itself is involved in carrying out inhuman actions against the prisoners which are inconceivable such as:
1- Injecting drugs which devastate the nervous system of the victims
2- Extracting large quantities of blood from the victims for the IRGC’s blood bank
3- Performing trials of different types of drugs and chemicals on the bodies of the victims
4- Injecting large quantities of morphine in the bodies of victims and making them addicts of narcotics
5- Cutting the bodies of the executed prisoners into pieces and using their organs for transplants
6- Administering nerve-breaking drugs to freed prisoners to make them insane
7- Administering drugs which in the long run make the victims vulnerable to strokes and/or heart attacks.

A significant example of such high-handed actions of the IRGC is Ramin Pour Andarjani.

Dr.Ramin Pour Andarjani

Misfortune of the Concealed Prisoners

Nothing is known about the manner of their arrest, the place of their detention and the ultimate fate of most of these concealed prisoners. They are the unfortunate beings about whom no news or information is available during the long-drawn years. The main reason for IRGC’s secret prisons in the border provinces and the peripheral areas of Iran is that possibilities of leakage or circulation of such types of news within the counties are quite limited and almost non-existent.

Saeed Zeinali is another outstanding example of a victim who has lingered in one such secret prison for a long time without any information known about his whereabouts. Saeed Zeinali was arrested on 23 Tir 1378 HS/4 June 1999 before his mother’s eyes. From that day until now, except for a brief telephone call, there has been no trace of the whereabouts of this computer science graduate of the Tehran University. During the past 14 years, the parents of Zeinali have contacted all security centers and judicial authorities but no proper reply has been given to them yet.

[Source: Akram Niquabi, mother of Saeed Zeinali says: “They do not give any clear reply. A month ago a phone call came from the prosecutor’s office telling us that Saeed Zeinali has been released. You cannot estimate how happy we became. But afterwards they denied it. They said we have checked the case, we made a mistake. Later they told us don’t worry; we are pursuing the case; we will inform you.”

She adds: “We went to the prosecutor’s office. They said we have summoned the representative of the IRGC. We will hold a meeting with him and get the case sorted out. It was expected they will hold the meeting within ten days. But now 25 days have passed and there is no news.”

She narrates further: “Mr Khudabakhshiyan, the Superintendent-Magistrate of the Evin Prison (in Tehran), told Saeed’s father: We shall make all effort to discover the location of Saeed and inform you. He has been shifted to some other place. But he does not explain who has shifted Saeed and exactly who is keeping Saeed in custody? Is he really alive?”].

Punitive measures that injure and knock out the dignity, personality and humanity of the victims are normal and are a premeditated course of these secret detention centers.

Saeed Zeinali

Sexual Violence against Prisoners 

Sexual violence against ladies, young girls and even gentlemen who are rounded up for their participation in student movements or movements for protection of freedom and human rights is widely prevalent at these centers. Because of these traumas, sometime after their release from these centers, it has been observed that the victims become insane, meet accidental death or commit suicide.

Most of these suicides have been motivated by the sense of dishonor and humiliation suffered by the prisoners during the period of their detention as a result of sexual violence and physical abuse.

Sheler's Grave
Sheler’s Grave

One such unfortunate victim is a young girl named Sheller about whom Muhammad Nurizad has written in his official website: This girl was a student of M.A. (Political Science) at Tehran University. She was taken into custody and met her unfortunate end because her only crime was that she had signed a memorandum regarding the conditions in the university.

[Source: Two, three, four months passed. During the fifth month somebody told the father of the girl: Come and take away your daughter. The anxious father arrives in Tehran. Goes to Evin Prison. After some time the gate of the jail opens. Two policewomen brought out Sheller holding her armpits. She had no shackles on her feet.

Sheller Farhadi
Sheller Farhadi

My God! Sheller cannot be recognized. She had a beautiful face; she was clever; she was a sports girl; she was even playful; she is now reduced to less than 40-50 kilo in weight. The father takes custody of his daughter on condition that whenever they ring up to say: Bring her here, bring her here, he would take her there. Sometime last year the “Brothers” [jail staff] telephoned her father to produce Sheller before them. The magistrate told her: Get ready; they have given only three days’ time to you. For two days Sheller remained lost in herself, fearful and trembling. On the evening before the third day when she was to be taken to Evin she was found lying motionless. She had ended her life with an old sports gun which her father had kept in home].

Payman Kavousi, an electrical engineer, is yet another victim who has been locked in a prison of the IRGC for allegedly committing an offence of sexual transgression. What sexual transgression did he commit but raising his voice against the wrong policies and excesses of the theocratic regime and its killer force, the IRGC?

Peiman Kavousi

IRGC’s influence and intervention has spread to all echelons of state authority. It has not spared even the judicial branch. By virtue of its hegemony, the IRGC has been able to get its agents recruited to most of the key posts in the judicial administration down to the level of judicial assistants. Thus, this dreadful mafia of man-devouring IRGC is able to use them in any way they desire.

IRGC’s Power Game

The sole purpose of the IRGC in creating and maintaining these secret prisons and detention centers is to root out any ideas, movements or activities which it deems to be inimical to its power and position. Among the priorities of this force is the suppression of intellectuals, elimination of all protest movements and prevention of the emergence of any anti-regime group, body, guild or association.

In addition to striking awe and terror across the society, the objective of the IRGC in creating and maintaining these secret sites is to produce division, alienation, and mutual suspicion, dread of being arrested and place in jail with the attendant consequences. In short, the power game of the IRGC throughout the period of its existence is nothing but manslaughter and destruction. It follows no democratic principles and understands no democratic idioms. It is an evil machine which is geared at annihilation of movements which are not compatible with its ambitions. It has nothing for its opponents but violence, torture, and death.


1- Sheller’s Tragedy – Mohammad Nourizad
2- Fourteen Years After Death of Saeed Zeinali, What Did he Went Through – Rouz
3- Victims of Unlawful Imprisonments – BBC Farsi
4- A Report on How Dr. Ramin Pour Andarjani Was Murdered by IRGC – Radio Farda
5- Ibrahim Sharifi, a Victim of Sexual Abuse in Prison – Netherland’s TV
6- Peiman Kavousi in 22nd Session of the United Nation Counsil
7- IRGC’s Presence Hassan Rouhani’s Cabinets
8- IRGC’s Presence Iran’s Governors and Governors General
9- IRGC’s Presence in Iran’s Parliament

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