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. Officials have been informing the public since the first day with confidence, honesty, and transparency. Other counties are hiding the problem.”
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 passed 1,100. People’s Mujahidin Organization of Iran on March 20 reported 7,000 deaths in 199 cities, and 31 provinces. 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 criminals, of which 27 have been arrested. 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, “Those who send bogus reports must be charged with corruption and sentenced to death.”
How the virus came to Iran is debated. Newspaper Aftab-e-Yazd headlined in January “Mysterious virus at Iran’s Gates” warned about the China 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 Communist Chinese 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 Corona. Iran’s collapsing health care system and plausible pending death of millions have been reported by Associated Press from research from Sharif Industrial University in Iran. Drones are deployed disinfecting streets and teams mobilized to conduct door-to-door Coronavirus checks. Corona has killed more people in Iran than anywhere else.
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, an 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. Films showing rows of body-bags and caskets waiting days for burial, until they are dumped in a trench lined with lime.
Hundreds of thousands of inmates, many of whom were political prisoners, were at risk. Corona surged through the crowed run-down Iranian prison system. Mullahs refused to open the prisons. Prisoners in western Iran rebelled, disarmed the guards and escaped. Guards opened fire on 250 fleeing inmates killing several. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, called on the international community and UN Security Council to intervene urgently to secure the release of prisoners. 85,000 prisoners have been released.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken bold measures to counter the spread of coronavirus, which includes halting the entry of religious pilgrims for the Hajj, a journey taken by around 2 million Muslims each year.
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 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 Corona. Some U.S. media are treating the false information as fact, spreading fear and confusion.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “The US is doing everything it can to provide assistance to manage the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, which has the highest contraction and death rates. Humanitarian assistance to Iran is not restricted under the sanctions the U.S. has placed on Iran. The world should know that humanitarian assistance to Iran is wide open.” 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.