Brief on Iran (BOI – 310)


166 prominent Iranian American medical professionals and health workers send a letter to President Donald Trump.
OIAC praises CFFI for their letter to President Donald Trump highlighting Iran’s sinister plan to leverage COVID-19 pandemic to enrich and empower the regime

WASHINGTON, DC, USA, April 12, 2020 / — Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC) praises Clinicians for a Free Iran (CFFI) for their letter to President Donald Trump highlighting Iran’s sinister plan to leverage COVID-19 pandemic to enrich and empower the regime. More than 160 prominent medical professionals, health workers, and scholars, many of whom are on the frontline of the battle against this global pandemic, have raised deep concerns that regime foreign minister Javad Zarif is portraying his regime as a “victim ” of U.S. sanctions.
CFFI Chair, Dr. Ashraf Zadshir, a specialist in infectious diseases and Founding Director of the Department of Residency at Borrego Health in Southern California added that, “both the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and President Hassan Rouhani should be held accountable for expelling Doctors Without Borders team from Iran and refusing U.S. offers of humanitarian assistance, the regime is blaming the pandemic on the U.S. sanctions to cover up its denial, mismanagement, and subsequent embezzlement of COVID-19 aid sent by the international community.”
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Dissident group claims coronavirus death toll in Iran tops 20,000
Washington Times,, April 8, 2020

An international Iranian dissident group says the country’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak is much higher than the government has reported — more than three times the current estimate.

Iran has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, with government officials reporting nearly 65,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 4,000 deaths.But the exiled National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) claimed Wednesday that the government has not been honest about the death toll, and say the toll is more than 20,000 to date with infections more than 500,000 among its 83 million people.

The group, which says it has a wide network of informants inside Iran, asserted during a virtual briefing Wednesday that at least 2,050 people have died from the virus in Qom alone, which is considered to be the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in Iran.

Ali Safavi, a member of the group’s foreign affairs committee, said during the briefing that the organization has “reliable evidence that the regime knew about this virus as early as late January, most likely earlier, but did not inform the public or the world about it.”

In a new report released Wednesday, the NCRI claims that “Tehran still refuses to provide accurate information about the number of fatalities.”

“The nearly month-long criminal cover-up was definitely a key factor in the rapid outbreak in Iran, a crime against humanity for which the regime’s leaders must be brought to justice,” the group said.
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Iran: Prisoners killed by security forces during COVID-19 pandemic protests
Amnesty International, April 9, 2020

Around 36 prisoners in Iran are feared to have been killed by security forces after the use of lethal force to control protests over COVID-19 safety fears, Amnesty International has learned.
In recent days, thousands of prisoners in at least eight prisons around the country have staged protests over fears of contracting the coronavirus, sparking deadly responses from prison officers and security forces.

In several prisons, live ammunition and tear gas were used to suppress protests, killing around 35 prisoners and injuring hundreds of others, according to credible sources. In at least one prison, security forces beat those taking part in the protest action, possibly leading to the death of an inmate.
“It is abhorrent that instead of responding to prisoners’ legitimate demands to be protected from COVID-19, Iranian authorities have yet again resorted to killing people to silence their concerns,” said Diana Eltahawy, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director of Middle East and North Africa.
“An independent investigation into the torture and deaths in custody is urgently needed with a view to bringing to justice those found responsible.

“Security forces must be instructed to immediately cease the use of unlawful lethal force, and to refrain from punishing prisoners calling for their right to health.”

Amnesty International is also calling on Iranian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all prisoners held solely for peacefully exercising their rights. Despite some initial releases, the Iranian authorities have failed to release the vast majority of prisoners of conscience, hundreds of whom remain in prison. The authorities should also consider releasing prisoners held in pre-trial detention or those who may be more at risk from the virus.

Prison protests during COVID-19 pandemic

In recent weeks, prisoners and their families have been raising the alarm that the Iranian authorities have failed to sufficiently protect the prison population during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Iran: Coronavirus Death Toll Exceeds 27,000 in 267 Cities, April 13, 2020

The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK) announced on Monday, April 13, 2020, that the Coronavirus death toll in Iran has exceeded 27,000 in 267 cities across the country. The number of victims in Tehran province is 4,300, Gilan 2220, Mazandaran 1860, Khuzestan 1120, East Azerbaijan 790, Hamedan 720, Ardabil 577, Fars 570, Central Province 390, North Khorasan 300, Sistan and Baluchestan 300, and Ilam 210.

According to one of the doctors at Baqiyatallah Hospital in Tehran, at least 4 out of 5 people who die of Coronavirus infection are reported to have died because of acute respiratory illness. Many patients who have a stroke or die due to shortness of breath are reported they have died because of a heart attack. Many Coronavirus patients are released before full recovery without any precautionary measures which can spread the disease.

Hassan Khalilabadi, a member of Tehran’s City Council, warned yesterday about the situation in Shahr-e-Rey and Kahrizak, south of Tehran, “Kahrizak is the red spot of the Coronavirus outbreak…. Some of the victims have been buried in the old cemeteries of Shahr-e-Rey.” Another member of Tehran City Council said, “Tehran’s death toll, which we know of, does not in any way, match the overall figures that are being announced.”

Hossein-Ali Haji-Deligani, a regime parliament deputy, whose remarks while addressing the Minister of Economic Affairs and Finance were published in state-run Hamshari daily, said, “About 3,000 bank employees had contracted Coronavirus, and 42 had died.” Alireza Ghanadan, the Managing Director of Tehran’s Taxi Management and Supervision Organization, announced that 302 taxi drivers had contracted Coronavirus.”

People at home, in the streets, and markets ridicule what regime refers to as the “Smart Social Distancing” plan. The regime experts are also opposing the forced return of people to work under the guise of Smart Social Distancing, which began on Saturday. Today, Abbas Aghazadeh Masrour, head of the General Assembly of the Medical System Organization told Ressalat daily, “I believe that the Smart Social Distancing, as we see it, is doomed to fail in controlling the Coronavirus epidemic, and the death toll and the number of infected patients are still worrying.”
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Coronavirus: Iran prepares 10,000 graves in Tehran for victims
Iran has prepared 10,000 graves for coronavirus victims in the capital Tehran, the deputy director of Tehran’s municipal urban services Mojtaba Yazdani said on Sunday.
Al Arabia, April 13, 2020

Authorities have allocated a new section in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, the country’s largest cemetery, to coronavirus victims, Yazdani said, adding that 10,000 graves have so far been dug in this section, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Yazdani did not say how many people have died of coronavirus in the capital. The Iranian health ministry does not disclose the coronavirus death toll for each province and instead reports the overall death toll for the entire country.

As of Sunday, 4,474 in Iran have died from coronavirus, and there are 71,686 confirmed cases, according to the health ministry.The ministry has warned in a report that the national death toll from the virus could reach 30,000 by the start of May if social distancing regulations are relaxed.

“Low-risk” businesses will reopen in the capital Tehran from April 18, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, a day after “low-risk” economic activity was allowed to resume elsewhere in the country. Iran reopened government offices on Saturday after a brief nationwide lockdown to help contain the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
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Iran Protests & more

Dozens Of Political Prisoners In Iran Moved To Unknown Location After Unrest
Radio Farda, April 7, 2020

More than 80 political and civil rights inmates in Sheyban (Shiban) prison in Ahvaz have been taken to an unknown detention center, an Iranian-Arab activist, Karim Dahimi, told Radio Farda on Tuesday, April 7.

Ahvaz is the capital city of the oil-rich Khuzestan province, southwest Iran, where the majority of Arabic-speaking Iranians live.

The decision to transfer the prisoners was taken after the inmates held a protest to the lack of health facilities and the possibility of the novel Coronavirus outbreak on March 31, Dahimi said, adding that the security forces suppressed the uprising with full force.

According to Dahimi, several inmates were hit by bullets, and there is no information on their whereabouts.
Speaking to Radio Farda, Dahimi asserted that he has collected the names of eight prisoners, some battered and tortured by the security forces.
Several prisons across Iran witnessed protests to conditions in facilities and being deprived of furlough amid the deadly virus outbreak.

Meanwhile, an unknown number of inmates in Sheyban and Sepidar prisons in Ahvaz were killed during clashes with the security forces last week, reports say.

Based on separate reports filed by human rights groups, the Islamic Republic security forces have so far killed ten inmates in Tehran’s infamous prison, Fashafuyeh (the Greater Tehran Central Penitentiary, GTCP), and Qarchak detention center in the city of Varamin, as well as in a jail in the city of Orumieh, northwest Iran.

“The Iranian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of prisoners of conscience amid grave fears over the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Iran’s prisons. The authorities should take measures to protect the health of all prisoners and urgently consider releasing pre-trial detainees and those who may be at particular risk of severe illness or death,” Amnesty International said in a statement on March 26.
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Iran’s Regime Stands to Benefit From the Coronavirus: A 12 Percent Interest-Bearing Loan With the Elimination of the People’s Subsidies
Iran Focus, April 11, 2020

Claiming that his government has the coronavirus pandemic under control, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has promised two more steps after the Iranian regime opened offices on 4 April and announced that businesses would start operating in Iran’s cities on 11 April and in Tehran on 18 April:
A livelihood package of “200 to 600 thousand Tomans” and “a loan of one million” with a 12 percent interest on the elimination of subsidies in the coming months.

The subject of normalizing the situation in Iran and starting the works led to heavy protests in the regime’s media. This act is so dangerous and disastrous that even someone like the regime’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Raisi who is responsible for the execution of many people in Iran said: “Among the types of health, the health of the body and the soul of the people is a priority, and in the conflict between the types of health, our strategy and management should be based on ensuring the health of the lives of the people.”

But the regime’s confusing economic situation pushed it to close its eyes on the protests even by the regime’s officials and vetoing the high priority bill of the parliament to confront the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

And to calm down the situation and keep the people silent the regime’s president announced the plan of the livelihood package of “200 to 600 thousand Tomans”, which is equivalent to $ 12 to 36 for 3 million families.
He also promised that “a loan of 1 million to 2 million tomans [equivalent to 60 to 120 dollars] will be given to 23 million low-income families, but their subsidies will be reduced within 24 months”.

This loan is considered to be a kind of receipt of a cash subsidy for a few months, and its recipients are not supposed to receive a subsidy in the next few months in order to settle the loan installments in this way.
Also, the amount of one million tomans is the ceiling of the loan that can be paid to the families of five people, and if the number of family members decreases, the amount of the loans will decrease.
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Commentary: Tehran lies, punishes activists amid coronavirus crisis

Columbia Daily Tribune, April 13, 2020 by Kasra Nejat

Iran’s clerical leadership has not been able to make its lies keep pace with the reality of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. Meanwhile, state disinformation reinforces the pervasive lack of trust that had already taken root among the Iranian people. And according to a leading Iranian dissident group, this fatal brew of state cover-up, incompetence and negligence has already caused thousands of deaths among Iranians.

A recently-published report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) found that upwards of 27,000 people in 267 cities have died from the infection, while the number of non-fatal cases reached well into the tens of thousands.

The discrepancy between these figures and the regime’s official statistics is staggering – so much so that even if the NCRI’s reporting is only half accurate, it would be almost impossible to imagine that Tehran’s official estimates are being offered in earnest.

The NCRI has traditionally been a reliable source of information. Its main constituent group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI-MEK), maintains an expansive intelligence network inside Iran, which was responsible for exposing key features of Iran’s clandestine nuclear program in 2003.
Its reporting on the coronavirus has been generally corroborated by other activist groups and Iranian citizens, including medical professionals with direct experience of a pandemic that has been severely downplayed by regime authorities.

The NCRI report points to specific accounts of the infection spreading within a dozen different Iranian prisons. In many cases, political prisoners’ requests for furlough are being ignored. Worse still, prisoners of different types are being housed together and shuffled among different wards, in what could easily be regarded as a deliberate effort to promote the spread of infection.

This is made all the more noteworthy – and all the more relevant to the NCRI’s references to political costs for the outbreak – when one considers that Iran’s population of political prisoners currently includes untold numbers of young men and women who were arrested during a nationwide uprising last November.
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