Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism: On March 20, people are celebrating the new year Navroz of the Pharisees. On the other hand, there are serious apprehensions that the government of Iran is engaged in efforts to suppress the spread and impact of the virus in a big way.
It is also feared that the situation here may worsen in the coming time. Since the onset of the coronavirus havoc in the country, Mohammed has been continuously making every effort to save the lives of his patients without resting.
Mohammed is a doctor in a hospital in Iran's northern province of Gilan. He has not met his family even once in the last 14 days. They have lost their associates. He has lost his friends, including one of his former counselors who was his teacher in medical school. He recently succumbed to the Coronavirus.
- 1 Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism: A country hiding the tragedy of Coronavirus
- 2 Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism: A country hiding the tragedy of Coronavirus
- 3 Coronavirus and the Blindness of Authoritarianism: A country hiding the tragedy of Coronavirus
According to Mohammed, 'It is not only about our hospital. Corona has disabled our entire health system. He says, "Staff morale has fallen. Our families are very worried and we are under tremendous pressure."
We are not giving the real name of Mohammad here because speaking against the government in Iran can demonstrate challenging. You can be arrested for doing so.
But, many doctors from every part of the northern province of the country have given shocking information to the BBC about this difficult situation. They have told how bad conditions they are facing and how the government has failed to handle this crisis.
Mohammed said, "We do not have a sufficient number of masks. Everyday deaths are happening in our medical staff." He said, "I do not know how many deaths have occurred, but the government is busy suppressing the reality of this tragedy. They lied within days of the onset of the disease."
On the other hand, 16 countries claim that the disease has spread from Iran to them. These countries are Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Pakistan, Georgia, Estonia, New Zealand, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Qatar and Armenia.
Those who criticize the government say that the government of Iran is continuously presenting this crisis by reducing it. In its first announcement on February 19, the government said that people should not panic. The country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Iran's enemies that they are showing this danger by exaggerating.
After a week, the number of cases and deaths increased. President Hassan Ruhani reiterated the words of the country's Supreme Leader and warned against 'conspiracies and attempts to intimidate the enemies of the country'.
He said that the aim of these conspiracies is to derail the country. He called upon the people of Iran to continue their daily life and go to work. Recently, government-controlled TV programs announced that the coronavirus could be a US-made 'biological weapon'. The Supreme Leader tweeted about a 'biological attack'.
According to the Iranian Health Ministry, as of 19 March, there were 17,361 cases of COVID-19 in the country, while the death toll from it stood at 1,135.
Iran is at number three after China and Italy in the worst cases of the virus. Doctors in the three most affected provinces in Iran - Gilan, Golestan, and Mazandaran in Iran - told the BBC that the number of test kits for coronavirus is low and that medical supplies are limited.
These include common medications, oxygen tanks, sterilized masks, protective scrubs, and gloves. The doctors now have to work in the Temporary field hospitals.
An intensive care doctor described how the hospital at his local football stadium was built and beds were built to handle the ever-increasing number of patients.
All the doctors whom the BBC spoke to said that based on their experience they can say that the government statistics related to this disease are very low compared to reality.
A doctor from Golestan province said that on an average 300 patients are visiting his hospital every day. They estimate that 60–70 percent of these patients suffer from the coronavirus.
He said that due to a lack of resources, only critically ill patients are admitted and only those who are being admitted are being counted in the government figures.
The doctor told that on an average of 5 patients are dying in their homes every day for the past two weeks. They say that often by the time someone comes with a coronavirus testing kit, their patient is dead.
The most painful thing for medical staff is to lose loved ones. Medical professionals say that they have lost many of their colleagues so far. A very sad case came at the end of February of 25-year-old Nazis Khanalizadeh.
She was a nurse in the northern city of Lahijan, Iran. His photo went viral on social media. However, the government refused to believe that he died of COVID-19.
Government-controlled TV channels are constantly presenting a picture of medical staff showing them as fearless and fighting at the forefront fighting against the virus with courage and saving patients' lives. Used to be.
However, soon after Nazis' death, the Iranian Nursing Organization confirmed that she had died of the coronavirus.
How did the virus spread so fast?
According to the government, it started with two 'patient zero' (ie the first patient who is the carrier of an infectious disease and beyond which this infection spreads).
Both these patients died on 19 February in the city of Qom, Iran. According to the government, one of these patients came in contact with the virus in China.
The population quickly became the center of this transition in Iran. The city is a major shrine for Shia Muslims. The top Islamic religious leaders live here. Every year about 2 crore domestic and about 25 lakh foreign tourists come to this city.
Thousands of pilgrims roam the city every week. They visit the shrines and prominent places here and pay their respects by kissing and touching them.
The virus spread rapidly and cases started to grow. However, instead of swiftly quarantining the city, representatives of the Supreme Leader, such as Maulvi Muhammad Saeedi, campaigned that pilgrims continue to visit the city.
He had said, "We believe that disease is cured in the holy religious place, so people should come here and be free from spiritual and physical diseases."
Richard Brennan, director of emergency operations of the World Health Organization (WHO), said, "KOM is religiously special and because of this, the movement of domestic and foreign tourists from Iran continued. Due to this the virus spread quickly throughout the whole country.
Brennan has just returned from KOM recently. He said that during his visit, he has seen efforts to increase functioning in the testing labs and hospitals in KOM and the capital Tehran.
The religious places of the city have now been closed.
Did the government try to hide it?
In February, two major events in the country - the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution were celebrated and parliamentary elections were held. "On February 11, several days before the victory of the Islamic Revolution, I and my colleagues recorded an unusual respiratory disease for the first time," said a senior doctor. He said that he sent several reports from his hospital to Tehran to the Senior Health Ministers warning about the onset of the virus.
"We believe that the health authorities have decided to hide the fact that the coronavirus has reached Iran so that they can continue with normal state-sponsored programs," he said.
The anniversary of the revolution and the electoral platform was considered a test of the popularity of the government, as the past six months have not been very good for the Iranian people.
In November 2019, there were violent protests against the rise in oil prices. Besides, in retaliation after the death of top Iranian commander Qasim Sulemani in the US attack, Iran attacked the US military base in Iraq with missiles. Due to this, tension reached its peak in America and Iran.
The fall of Ukraine's passenger plane in Iran cost 176 lives. Initially Iranian officials denied that the plane was shot down by a missile, but later this mistake was accepted. Due to this, people's trust in the government was shaken.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has accused Iran’s enemies of increasing the threat of the Coronavirus so that voters can stay out of the elections.
Khamenei said, "The negative propaganda was going on for several months. And in the last two days, his media has used every opportunity under the guise of virus and disease to stop people from casting their votes."
Recently, Iran's Health Minister Saeed Namki dismissed claims of delay in reports. It was announced on government TV that this issue was immediately seen on February 19, while elections were to be held on February 21.
Five days after the election, the government's confirmed cases had risen to 139 and the death toll had reached 19. On the same day, Ahmed Amirabadi Farahani, a staunch MP from KOM, stood in Parliament and said that 50 people had died in his city in two weeks.
Deputy Health Minister Eraz Harirchi dismissed Farahani's claims and said he would resign if there were even 25 deaths.
Later that day, Harirchi was seen sweating and coughing during the press conference on the coronavirus. He later declared that his test report was positive. In this way, he was the first of many high-profile politicians in Iran who had fallen prey to Corona.
Hariri is reportedly fully recovered and has also appeared live on TV on 13 March. Many experts and journalists have expressed fears that government figures are dangerous and that they are the result of trying to undermine the crisis present in Iran on a large scale.
In the investigation of BBC Persian, it was also found that the death toll is six times more than the official figures. But, even though government figures are constantly going up, the question is facing Iran that how to stop this virus?
Stay in lockdown
Alireza's father passed away in mid-March. Alireza said, "There was no one from our family when they buried my father. I could not even see him for the last time. He told us that he had died and buried him in a special zone in Tehran's main cemetery." has given."
Alireza's name has been changed for safety.
Alireza's family asked the authorities not to gather a crowd for the funeral. However, he said that after burying his father, he can visit his grave once. However, when she reached the cemetery, the staff told them that it was not safe for them to come here as they are burying many more bodies there.
Alireza said, "We talk about his father's death more than his death. I am not a religious person, but I feel strange inside as if we have committed our father's disrespect." Iranian authorities have now banned any large crowd for the last rites.
Many religious leaders, including the Supreme Guide, have issued religious orders. These fatwas have traditionally asked the body (Mordesur) of bodies to stop the bathing process of bodies to protect them from the virus.
While the WHO calls for immediate and aggressive measures at the international level, Iran's response is moderate compared to the measures taken by China and Italy.
Schools, universities and seminars have been closed. Football matches have been canceled. A large number of disinfection operations are underway in the capital Tehran.
All Iranians have been advised not to travel and to stay at home. For the first time since the formation of the Islamic Republic in 1979, Friday prayers were also canceled.
Up to 1.55,000 prisoners have been temporarily released from overcrowded prisons to prevent the spread of the virus. They also include political prisoners. Many of them are thought to be in poor health. These include the Anglo-Iranian charity worker Nazneen Zagari-Ratcliffe.
However, most government buildings, offices and banks are open. Even retired teachers like the middle-class Irani Fateh and her husband (real names are hidden) say the problem is that people are still using money to buy groceries for fuel.
He said, "We have to go to the bank to receive our monthly pension. We hope to receive a special allowance from Noroz in the next few days."
Many medical experts inside and outside Iran say the virus will continue to spread throughout the country until the government brings transparent data and brings the whole city to cities like KOM.
President Rouhani has repeatedly said that the government will not lock out cities and that all stores will remain open and that people will continue to work. It is a decision for which many believe Iran has no other option.
US sanctions have broken the back of the Iranian economy.
The Pharisees' New Year is the country's largest annual festival, but Fateh says it's not like celebrating this time. She says: "All my life, I have never been alone in such a house on the occasion of Nowruz.
Even during the war, this did not happen when Saddam attacked our cities with missiles. time we were going. Her house to meet people on Nowruz. "