In a sign of how bad things have become in Iran, some of those arrested in recent weeks have been relieved to be detained in Evin – a prison in northern Tehran that for decades has been a byword for terror.
It is not that Evin, under the partial control of the fearsome intelligence ministry, has gone soft on the protesters filling its cells since the outbreak of post-election unrest in June. It is just that the other options are seen as far worse.
“At least you know you are [being] interrogated by an organisation with relevant obligation in a registered prison, and you are much less likely to be physically tortured,” says one reformist.
Many of those arrested have instead ended up in semi-official institutions, where no reliable arrest records are kept and it is not always clear who is in control.