Day 1958 - Paul Whelan - IK-17 Mordovia Russia - May 8, 2024 - Riot at Prison IK-17

Paul called our parents today [5/8/2024] to let us know there had been a melee amongst the prisoners at IK-17. He first noticed something was strange when a lot of the prisoners did not show up at the sweatshop. Paul told our parents that he learned that a prison guard had thrown away a Muslim prisoner's prayer rug and a Quran.  He estimated that about 400 prisoners went on strike from work and some of them started striking things as well, including security cameras and other prisoners. Two were apparently beaten with paving stones.

Some Tajik prisoners formed a protective circle around Paul. We remain concerned about Paul's safety and clearly the prison administration isn't able to ensure the welfare of prisoners and is, in this case, actively inciting them. The best the prison warden was able to accomplish was to lock all of the workers in the sweatshop until the end of the work day. We're grateful to the prisoners who have shown such kindness to Paul in such a dark place.

We hope that someone will ask the Federal Penitentiary system (FSIN) about what happened: why is a guard throwing away personal, religious items? what safety measures will the prison take to ensure that prisoners like Paul are not put at risk due to actions taken by guards? If only there were a prison monitoring service that hadn't been coopted by the Kremlin.

This behavior by the authorities is frankly unsurprising, given that Paul has himself been attacked and had his personal possessions destroyed by guards in the past. Ideally, someone would be able to speak to the IK-17 warden on Paul's behalf or visit Paul in order to get a first-person account and assessment of what happened. But he is on his own.

Paul has been held hostage by the Russian government for 1,958 days. His ordeal remains an intolerable one of uncertainty about his physical safety and protection of his human rights. There is no way to measure the permanent mental trauma Paul is suffering. We hope the U.S. government will finally come to grips with his wrongful detention and bring him home.