In the week of Parliamentary elections, Iran’s authorities are preparing for more mass protests by opening up prison spaces.

Citing sources “with detailed knowledge”, the Center for Human Rights in Iran says many detainees have been transferred out of Tehran’s Evin Prison to be ready for sudden influxes.

One source said on February 12:

They started transferring the prisoners 10 days ago. At the moment, very few are left in wards 2, 8 and 7 — mostly political and “security” prisoners, as well as prisoners of conscience. Other wards have been shut down and locked.

The source explained that many of the thousands of detainees from mass demonstrations in November, over the Government’s sudden rise of 50% to 200% in petrol prices, “had to be released because there was not enough space to keep them”.

He/she continued, “That was a lesson for officials to prepare for the possibility of more and wider protests.”

At least 304 demonstrators were killed by security forces in several days of nationwide rallies in November, according to verified information from Amnesty International. Three Iranian Interior Ministry officials told Reuters that 1,500 people — protesters, security personnel, and bystanders — were slain.

See also Iran Daily, Dec 23: Supreme Leader — “Do Whatever It Takes to End The Protests”

A spokesman for Iran’s Parliament said about 7,000 people were detained. Iranian authorities have not issued an official statement, and have not said how many people remain behind bars.

There were also four days of protests across Iranian cities in January, after the military lied about its downing of a Ukraine jet. The 176 passengers and crew, including more than 100 Iranian citizens, all perished.

Expanding Evin

Sources also say Evin Prison, with its wards overseen by the Revolutionary Guards, is being modified.

Former political prisoner Saeed Malekpour wrote last week of the entire facility becoming “a high-security detention center modeled on wards 2-A and 209”, the areas controlled by the Guards and the Intelligence Ministry. He said walls are being extended, barbed and electric wire fences are being installed, and more security cameras are in place.

Malekpour, a computer programmer who served 11 years in Evin, said trees in common areas have been cut down and the exercise club has been closed.

Another source claimed the Guards have construction another secret detention center. Multiple sources spoke of Evin prisoners being transferred 20 miles away to Fashafouyeh Prison and its “terrible” conditions.