The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) announced on June 7, that over 50,000 people have lost their lives due to the coronavirus outbreak in Iran. This is indeed a tragedy and a humanitarian catastrophe, yet it was evitable. A glance at the regime’s approach and handling of this crisis prove this.
Unlike other countries, when the COVID-19 virus was first detected in Iran, the Iranian regime denied its existence. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed documents of Iran’s National Emergency Organization, obtained by the MEK’s network inside Iran, showing that the authorities were aware of the existence of this virus and had some infected patients hospitalized, but refused to tell the public. While other countries canceled all flights to and from China, Mahan Air airline, which belongs to the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) continued flying to China; and while other airlines refused to relocate Chinese passengers, Mahan Air did the opposite. But why?
The regime refused to tell the public for one reason: it wanted a larger turnout during its anniversary marches and sham parliamentary elections, to give its corrupt rule a veneer of legitimacy. The regime’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, also needed this, in line with his policy of contraction, to justify his massive purge of the rival faction’s candidates. Following the nationwide Iran protests in November, with over 1500 martyrs, and the second wave of protests in January following the IRGC’s downing of the Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 passengers aboard, the conflict between the Iranian people and the regime reached an irreversible point. The mullahs were expecting a general boycott of their anniversary carnival and sham parliamentary elections. Despite the regime’s criminal decision to cover up the existence of the COVID-19 in Iran, this so-called “election” was met with an unprecedented boycott. Yet, those few people who participated became hosts of this virus and spread it across Iran, starting in the city of Qom. in addition, due to its international isolation, the Iranian regime needed to maintain its diplomatic and commercial relationship with China.
Then, the mullahs’ regime entered the second phase of its cover-up campaign: downplaying the crisis and trying to balance Iran’s coronavirus death toll with that of other countries. Yet, unlike other countries, it refused to impose a national quarantine. The regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and Khamenei were on the frontline of the cover-up and downplaying campaign. Simultaneously, the regime’s officials and apologists tried to blame the growing COVID-19 casualties on the United States sanctions, with Khamenei going as far as foolishly speaking of the U.S. “bioterrorism.” In addition, the regime intensified its security measures, opened fire on those prisoners protesting to be freed amid the virus outbreak, and arrested those telling the truth about the crisis’ extent and dimensions, under the pretext of “rumor-mongering.”
In a nutshell, the mullahs were intending to use the coronavirus outbreak in Iran as both a lever of pressure on the international community to free themselves from the comprehensive sanctions, which have crippled the regime’s warmongering machine and a lever of oppression to control the restive Iranian society.
When the regime, fearing a nationwide protest, issued a national quarantine, it refused to financially support people. Therefore, many people lost their jobs and were rapidly joining the army of starving people. Fearing an uprising and in need of having its economy running at full pace to fund its illicit activities, the regime forced people back to work and opened holy shrines, a longstanding source of revenue for the mullahs’ regime by using people’s religious views. Simultaneously, Rouhani continued his blatant lies about making more provinces “white” or virus-free. The NCRI and its president-elect Maryam Rajavi at that time warned of consequences of the regime’s decision to reopen the economy and highlighted that officials had prioritized their grasp on power over people’s lives.
Meanwhile, as the Iranian Resistance revealed, huge financial institutions, such as the Astan-e Quds Razavi, which are controlled by Khamenei himself, have billions of dollars of assets and financial resources to support the Iranian people. Yet, Khamenei refused to use those funds to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
When the regime’s cover-up policy failed, due to the Iranian Resistance’s revelations, the regime’s infighting intensified, resulting in revelations of some extent of the crisis by the regime’s own officials. Meanwhile, Rouhani and government officials shamelessly accused people of not being cooperative.
The regime’s inaction and cover-up have turned Iran into the coronavirus’s killing zone for the Iranian people and an epicenter of COVID-19 in the region and the world. A glance at the regime’s approach in dealing with the coronavirus shows that this crisis was evitable, but the mullahs refused to help the people and prioritized their own interests over those of the nation.
In this regard, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI, while reacting to the horrific and tragic number of fatalities, which has surged past 50,000, said: “The catastrophe could have been prevented as was the loss of so many lives. The fatality figures in Iran, even the official figures, cannot be compared with other Middle East countries, whose economic and social infrastructures are far weaker than Iran.”
“Khamenei and Rouhani are directly responsible for the increasing number of victims and must be held to account. Instead of paying the salaries of workers and hardworking people for a few months from the vast resources of the economic cartels controlled by Khamenei and the IRGC, they have sent the people of Iran back to work and to the Coronavirus altar of sacrifice,” she added.