February was marked by the outbreak of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Iran, progressively spreading throughout the country, and the regime’s deliberate inaction, says a leading Iranian human rights group.
In its monthly report of February, Iran Human Rights Monitor (Iran HRM) mainly focused on the Coronavirus outbreak in Iran, the regime’s cover-up and inaction in this regard and the extent of the crisis.
“Since the outset, the Iranian regime disseminated false information in a bid to cover up the scope of the outbreak. It did not take preemptive measures or distribute adequate medical supplies to the public. The regime also continued its flights back and forth to China. In this way, the regime contributed to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus all across the country and the rising numbers of victims, as well as the transmission of the disease to neighboring countries,” read the report.
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) announced on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, that as of 8:00 pm local time, the death toll nationwide from the Coronavirus had exceeded 1,200.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) March 3, 2020
Referring to the regime’s criminal downplaying of the Coronavirus outbreak and its casualties, Iran HRM wrote: “There is no accurate assessment of the scope of the outbreak and the actual numbers of victims of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) in Iran since the regime’s officials have deliberately tried to minimize the scope of the catastrophe. Local reports from various provinces, however, indicate that the virus has spread widely and people are increasingly concerned.”
“The official figures announced on since February 26 saw a steep rise. The rate of increase has been 100 persons per day. The official figure rose from 140 to 388 on February 28 within only two days. The regime puts the death toll at 34. The new figures still seem to be inaccurate and unrealistic,” the report added.
While quoting local sources from Iran, Iran–HRM’s report read: “A local source in Isfahan reported, ‘I went to several pharmacies in Baharestan of Isfahan to purchase face masks and disinfectant gel. All pharmacies had posted a placard or a hand-written sign either on their windows or on the counter, saying, ‘We do not have face masks, gloves, red and white ethanol alcohol, disinfectant solutions, and disinfectant gel. Please do not ask.’ The pharmacy staff were not wearing gloves and in the best form, they were wearing face masks made with fabric.’
“A source in Mashhad said, ‘The regime is trying to conceal the situation. Pharmacies neither have face masks nor any disinfectant. The situation is very bad,’” read the report.
Coronavirus in Iranian prisons
While referring to the spread of COVID-19 in Iranian prisons and the regime’s inaction to contain and control this disease, Iran HRM wrote: “Another tragedy is the outbreak of the Coronavirus in prisons. Overcrowded wards and the disastrous state of the hygiene in prisons foretell of a major disaster being underway.”
“The closed space of prisons, low quality of food, lack of medical and health resources, overcrowded rooms, and emergence of victims of Coronavirus in some prisons, have caused serious concern among prisoners and their families. In some prisons, including the prisons of Khorramabad (capital of Lorestan Province) and Sanandaj (capital of the Iranian Kurdistan Province), inmates have demanded to receive medical and health resources, as well as having prisoners suspected of contracting the virus being quarantined. They have threatened to go on hunger strike if prison authorities fail to respond to their demands,” read the report.
In another part of its monthly report, Iran HRM gave information about executions and death sentences during February. According to Iran HRM: “the Iranian regime has executed at least 22 people in February 2020.”
Forced Confession and torture
Iran HRM also referred to the ongoing tortures inside Iranian prisons, as a method for the regime to obtain forced confessions from prisoners. Iran HRM referred to Ms. Noloufar Bayani’s case, a female environmentalist who is now serving a 10-year sentence in Iran. “In a letter written in February 2020, Niloufar Bayani described the interrogations and wrote, the agents forced her to ‘mimic sounds of wild animals.‘ Bayani has also revealed that her interrogators continually made sexual threats against her, showed her pictures of torture tools, made her listen to descriptions of others’ tortures and execution for hours, and pretended that they were going to give her a paralyzing or lethal injection,” read the report.
To see the full report please click here.