Government lying, cover-ups, and misleading information about the number of coronavirus cases are what critics are saying about Iran.
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said, “This is not such a big catastrophe, …. a passing issue, and nothing exceptional.”
He also said: “Our officials have been informing the public since the first day with confidence, honesty, and transparency. But some other counties are hiding the fact the disease is more severe and more widespread.”
Dr. Richard Brennan, emergency director for the Eastern Mediterranean Region of the World Health Organization, said, “The officially reported cases may account for just a fifth of their actual number.”
Iran claims the death toll has passed 2,000. Regime opponents the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), on March 26, reported 11,900 deaths in 224 cities. Names, and sometimes photos, of the dead are posted daily.
President Hassan Rouhani claims to withhold nothing from the public, but is furious that actual figures have been covertly published. Tehran does not want the outside world to know what is happening. Monitoring cyberspace, it has identified 262 criminal cases, from which 27 people have been arrested for allegedly spreading rumors.
The head of Qom’s Judiciary said, “Any news, interviews, and reports that are false propaganda … will be dealt with legally.” Ayatollah Khamenei’s spokesperson said, according to the PMOI, “Those who send bogus reports must be charged with ‘corruption on earth’ and sentenced to death.”
How the virus came to Iran is debated. Newspaper Aftab-e-Yazd ran the headline in January “Mysterious virus at Iran’s Gates,” warning about the CCP virus. Travel to China continued. Some suggest that an Iranian businessman returned from China to Qom, home of major Shiite seminaries that have students from China, infected with the virus. Qom is along the route of the high-speed train route a Chinese state-run company is building.
As many as 30,000 a day go to hospitals, many infected with the virus. The hospitals cannot respond to so many. Dead have been buried in Tehran, Qom, and Golestan as victims of influenza, not coronavirus.
Iran’s collapsing health care system and plausible pending death of millions has been reported by the Associated Press based on research from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Drones were deployed disinfecting streets and teams mobilized to conduct door-to-door coronavirus checks.
Coronavirus has killed more people in Iran than anywhere else, perhaps barring China, where official figures are also alleged to be inaccurate.
Many high-ranking Mullahs have been infected and some died, including Expediency Council member Mohammad Mirmohammadi, a confidant of Ayatollah Khamenei; Hadi Khosroshahi, former ambassador to the Vatican; Ahmad Tuyserkani, adviser to Iran’s judiciary chief; as well as lawmakers and members of the country’s Assembly of Experts.
For ordinary Iranian dead, the mortuaries are overloaded. Videos show rows of body-bags waiting days for burial. Some are treated with lime.
Hundreds of thousands of prison inmates, many of whom were political prisoners, were at risk. Coronavirus would likely surge through the crowded, run-down Iranian prison system. Mullahs refused to open the prisons. Prisoners in western Iran recently rebelled, disarmed the guards, and escaped. Guards opened fire on 250 fleeing inmates, killing several.
Maryam Rajavi, leader of the PMOI, has called on the international community and U.N. Security Council to intervene urgently to secure the release of prisoners; 85,000 prisoners have been temporarily released.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has halted the entry of religious pilgrims for the Hajj, a journey taken by around 2 million Muslims each year, to counter the spread of the coronavirus.
In theocratic Iran, shrines stay open, despite health authorities’ recommendations. Mohammad Saidi, who oversees the Fatima Masumeh Shrine, claimed that closing shrines was part of a plot by President Donald Trump: “Defeating Qom is the dream of treacherous Trump and his domestic mercenaries, but this dream will not be realized even in their grave.”
Iranians are seething with anger, rioting, and burning effigies of Khamenei, while officials are panicking due to their cover-ups and inaction. Regime officials chatter about this being a biological attack by the United States of America.
Russia, China, and Iran have coordinated disinformation campaigns to disparage what America is doing with respect to the coronavirus. Some U.S. media are treating the false information as fact, spreading fear and confusion.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “The whole world should know that humanitarian assistance into Iran is wide open. It’s not sanctioned. There is no sanction on medicines going to Iran, there’s no sanctions on humanitarian assistance going into that country. They’ve got a terrible problem there and we want that humanitarian medical health-care assistance to get to the people of Iran.”
There has not yet been any indication that Tehran has accepted humanitarian resources.
The world remains largely uninformed as the forceful governmental thumb of the theocratic Islamic Republic of Iran remains in life and death control of the people and of the media.
Darlene Casella is a former English teacher, stockbroker, and owner/president of a small corporation. She is active with the Federated Republican Women, the Lincoln Club, and the California Republican Party.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.