Seventy days ago, Fars News Agency in a very short and confusing report, wrote about the death of 2 people in Qom. The reason for their death was mentioned in the first of three sentences in the news, Corona. In the second sentence, three other reasons were added to the first one: old age, lung and respiratory diseases, and immune system deficiencies. The last sentence smuggled another unspoken reason into the reader’s mind in the form of implicit information about the identity of one of the dead in the hospital. One of the twoو was a veteran and a victim of chemical attacks (during Iran-Iraq war). The news ended with the denial of more deaths due to Corona in the country.
In this short news, Fars depicted, from the very first day, the main path for the general approach of the regime in the face of coronavirus in the future:
Minimize the virus and pretend it is not serious
The Fars News Website below these three sentences introduces the viewer to the “related news” item which were published on the same day, Feb 19. It suggests: “Corona epidemic is definitely not worse than the flu.”
In this article, Fars News Agency reflects the words of the Deputy Health Minister, Qassem Jan Babaei. Jan Babaei at Qom University of Medical Sciences told reporters that the flu was more dangerous than the corona, and that the death rate from the corona was lower than the flu. In the same conversation, which was simultaneously published in all state media, he described other provinces’ involvement with this highly contagious disease as merely a “possibility” and when reporters asked him what advice he had for the people, he said: “There is no need to worry, the situation is under control and there are enough masks.” However, all three sentences in this recommendation of Qasim Jan Babaei were lies:
– The regime had given millions of masks to China and there were not enough masks.
– The situation was not under control at all, because the disease had entered the country a long time ago but the government had decided to keep it a secret due to the 41st anniversary propaganda demonstration on February 11 and their sham elections.
– Being worried was very much needed for any human being who felt responsible for the lives of his fellow humans.
Three days before the official announcement of the existence of corona cases in Iran, on February 16, 2020, a letter signed by Qasem Jan Babaei was circulated in cyberspace. In this letter, he announces that 45 people have contracted corona and 4 have died due to the disease in Iran. The news was denied by him on the same day.
Qassem Jan Babaei, two weeks after the media conference, in which none of his statements were true – scientific data and all epidemiologists around the world share the view that the coronavirus is in no way comparable with flu and is much more deadly and contagious – displayed another aspect of his scientific personality and predicted through Mehr News Agency: “Corona in the most optimistic state will be with us until Nowruz (March 20) and in the most pessimistic state until the end of May and even June.”
Pandemic only ends with “herd immunity.” All scientists and institutions agree, and it is only possible when a sufficient portion of population is immune to the disease and the pathogen loses its effect and disappears altogether. There are two ways to achieve this. 1. Immunization: This means that researchers are able to discover a vaccine and make it available to the public in enough numbers. 2. The natural immunity of the majority: This path is very frightening, and only after a large part of the society becomes sick and then resistant to the virus, the cause of the disease, is it possible to achieve herd immunity.
All the evidence suggests that Qassem Jan Babaei’s prevision is in the most realistic view taken from the first paragraph of his appointment letter by the Health Minister: “I expect you, while using the existing capabilities and capacities, to provide a plan for the transformation of the healthcare system of the Islamic Republic of Iran within the framework of the upstream documents, especially the general health policies announced by the Supreme Leader.”
Five days after the official announcement of the Coronavirus in Iran, in a speech, Ali Khamenei proved who, even in terms of healthcare, dictates government policies. It was in this speech that he described the deadly COVID-19 as a “fake disease.” From there to the “vicious virus” and the seventh prayer of Sahifa Sajjadieh, and his Twitter’s advice to officials to “get rid of” the disease as soon as possible, the main path of the Islamic totalitarian regime’s policy were clearly outlined by him. Even if someone still had a question in mind, Ali Khamenei answered it in a speech in mid-Sha’ban (birthday of Shia’s Messiah), where he called “Corona problem as a small thing”: “Corona’s problem should not distract us from the enemy’s conspiracy. The enemy is hostile towards the principle of the Islamic Republic. It is not right for some people to think that we should not be hostile so that they would not.”
Cause of death for COVID-19 patients is the inevitability of their death
The hidden message in Fars News report is: When someone is a veteran with chemical injuries, and has old age and respiratory diseases, and his immune system has been compromised, his death is inevitable even without Corona. These people would have died wherever they lived, even if the coronavirus was not there.
This message found its clearest form in the Vice Chancellor of Tehran University of Medical Sciences remarks, Amir Ali Sohrabpour:
“Our problem is not with the patients’ deaths. The people who died are the elderly who, if they hadn’t died because of Corona, would probably have died in the coming weeks for other reasons. “The problem is the burden they put on our hospitals.”
In its March 31 issue, the Le Monde newspaper published a report exposing the systematic falsification of death certificates for Corona victims in Iran. According to Le Monde, “In order to show the low number of Corona deaths in Iran, the country’s hospitals have issued death certificates stating that the cause of death for Corona victims is not the virus, but diseases such as kidney failure.” The same sources add that if the families oppose such claims, they will not be able to receive their loved ones’ body, especially since the death certificate for coronavirus victims is issued in fifteen days.
Rouhani’s government instructed one-third of employees to return to work on Saturday, March 29, 2020. At the same time, his Minister of Health, Saeed Namaki, together with other members of the government and the IRIB, launched a propaganda campaign against the people, during which they would blame the people for the spread of the disease. The government accused people of not complying with quarantine laws, the quarantine that the government itself used all its tools, power and propaganda to prevent its implementation.
Apparently, the government has made every effort to remove the coronavirus as the cause of death. The reason for this is directly related to the Islamic Republic’s role in the spread of this deadly virus in the country. The Islamic totalitarian regime, as we have seen, from the first day it was forced to admit the existence of coronavirus in the country, has continuously drawn many other factors along with COVID-19 to the attention of the public. These factors could be found in falsified death certificates and reports of Fars News Agency and other state media. Corona’s “censorship” in official documents and public opinion for the regime, on the one hand, changed the published statistics in its favor, and on the other hand, made the cause of death, which itself caused and spread in the country, small and insignificant, as a result, government agencies and institutions were not considered responsible. Because Khamenei and the central core of the government were well aware of how much they were to blame for the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the country. The regime had faced such options before it officially confirmed the cause of death in Iran: the parliamentary elections and the purchase of legitimacy by holding a propaganda machine festival or declaring a state of emergency in the country? Or before that, in the face of this choice: the 22 Bahman show (41st anniversary of Islamic Revolution) and bringing people to the streets or informing the public about the existence of a deadly and new virus that, if social distancing, quarantine and avoiding gatherings are not implemented, it would spread terribly with speed and intensity and will take many lives.
Today, it is clear to everyone which option the regime chose in those days and what was its priorities. The first priority was to save the life of Ali Khamenei. Despite the fact that government agencies have always insisted that there has been no delay in announcing the disease, the sheer volume of evidence that exposes this government lie is increasing day by day.
The evidence to this face was so clear that 100 university professors and political and social activists issued a statement on March 29, 2020, in which Ali Khamenei and Rouhani’s government which obeys his orders, were named responsible for the progressive outbreak and deaths of thousands of Iranian citizens.
The authors, refer to the fact that the Supreme Leader and other high-ranking government officials are in best quarantine conditions, raise the question “why in the case of gas price hike that [the government] wanted to impose its budget problems onto the people, the Supreme Leader himself immediately took to the stage and shut the mouths of all critics, including some grand ayatollahs who were traditional government imitators, but on the crisis that has targeted the lives of the people, the Supreme Leader is opportunistically silent against superstitious and closed-minded people who wasted weeks of golden opportunity and opposed banning gatherings and quarantining Qom.”
On the day that Ali Khamenei called on all people, even opponents of the regime, to go to the polls and attend public / government demonstrations, he was quarantined in the most severe from and away from any gatherings.
Normalizing Situation, Creating Governmental Filters for Information, Arrests and Terror Ambience
The Gilan’s Quds Force Intelligence arrested Mohammad Mokhtari, the captain of the Damash Gilan soccer team, on March 11, 2020. On his Instagram page, Mokhtari posted the statistics announced by the government is a lie. According to him, the number of deaths in Gilan province alone reached hundreds per day, so that the bodies of the victims were piled on top of each other and there was no place to bury them.
This was not the last or only arrest.
At the same time as the official announcement in the country, the only action taken seriously by government agencies to counter the Coronavirus from day one was the intelligence / security campaign against citizens. Dr. Rahim Yousefpour from Saqqez was another example of these encounters, which we wrote about it earlier here.
On Tuesday night, April 28, 2020, the spokesman for the General Staff of Armed Forces on Channel 2 of Islamic Republic Broadcasting Network was proud to announce the arrest of 3,600 cyberspace activists. Abolfazl Shekarchi called the citizen journalists as “enemies of the enemy.” He called combating Coronavirus a “psychological warfare.” Social media users were called “gossip leaders” and threatened to arrest them. Just like Fars News Agency, he mentioned the deaths of four doctors and nurses of the Armed Forces due to COVID-19, at first because of other “preexisting conditions” and then as “not a big number” and insignificant.
Everything is calm.
Hassan Rouhani is particularly interested in coloring the map of Iran. He started whitewashing parts of Iran on Sunday, April 5, 2020, and said: “Some provinces in the south are in white situation and there is no problem in provinces such as Bushehr, Hormozgan and Sistan and Baluchestan.” Immediately after these remarks, Kianoush Jahanpur told reporters, “nowhere in the country is free of coronavirus. None of the provinces is in white situation.” Hassan Rouhani needed 20 days to unveil the country’s comprehensive color scheme. Instead of transparency and honesty in expressing the facts, although bitter about the Corona crisis and announcing real numbers, Rouhani explained the meanings of the three colors yellow, white, and red on Sunday, April 26. Now that numbers and statistics are blocking the way of showing normalized situation in the country, this seminary graduate is playing with colors.
What Rouhani and his government have not considered is that behind the undeclared figures are the human destinies, the names and the memories of those who each have survivors. Just as the names and memories of the 1989 executions were never erased and no one was able to silence the complaints of grieving mothers, no color can ever cover the reality of the lives and deaths of the victims of Corona and the Islamic Republic. The coronavirus and the Islamic Republic are both equally responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iranians. The only difference between the two factors is that the virus lacks the spiritual or psychological element in this massacre, but the regime has it. We can’t talk about the “intentionality” of the virus and the “intent” for murder, but we can talk about it for the government and its agents and policymakers. The virus cannot be held accountable and pay the price but the government can.
Translation of this article by Sahar.