Coronavirus cover-up reveals Iran regime’s disregard for life
People’s frustration and anger toward the Iranian regime has escalated thanks to its initial coverup of the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The Iranian authorities’ actions revealed and continue to show the regime’s total disregard for their citizens and human life in general. For example, while many countries suspended flights to China when coronavirus cases began emerging there, the Iranian regime waited too long to do the same. Even some of Iran’s state-controlled news outlets began reporting on the issue. Eghtesad Online wrote on Feb. 19, after flights from Iran to China had been officially suspended: “While the coronavirus resulted in (several) victims in Iran, Mahan Airline’s flights to China continue. A group of cleaners in the Imam Khomeini International Airport expressed their concerns over tidying and cleaning planes arriving from China.”
It is worth noting that Iran’s commercial airlines, specifically Iran Air and Mahan Air, have been utilized for the illicit transport of weapons and military staff, including members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, its elite Quds Force and the Basij militia. These airlines usually fly to countries such as Syria unannounced. Several countries, including Germany and France, have banned flights by Mahan Air.
Many Iranians are also frustrated and enraged that the regime downplayed the intensity of the coronavirus. Soheila, an Iranian engineer from Tabriz, said: “The authorities tried to hide facts and did not take necessary steps in the early stages when people had the virus. They waited too long to warn the public. We received the news from foreign social media platforms and news outlets about the scope of the coronavirus in our country. We continue to rely on foreign outlets to see what is going on in the country because we do not trust the leaders here. The authorities’ actions were not just innocent negligence, but a crime against the people, like what they did with the Ukrainian plane.”
Not only have many ordinary people died from the coronavirus in Iran, but the regime’s own political elite has also been infected
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The regime pursued the same tactics with respect to the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Tehran in January. The Iranian leaders at first attempted to hide the truth, mislead the international community, and deny any involvement in the incident. The regime insisted that the civilian airliner crashed due to technical defects. Tehran also refused to cooperate with international investigators and appeared to rush to conceal evidence. That is why people began protesting against the regime and were heard chanting “death to the liars” and “death to Khamenei.” They criticized the regime for its belated admission and attempts to conceal the truth.
These two incidents reveal the regime’s total disregard for human life. Not only have many ordinary people died from the coronavirus in Iran, but the regime’s own political elite has also been infected. These include Farideddin Haddad Adel, the son of a powerful politician whose sister is the daughter-in-law of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who announced this week on Twitter that he had contracted the virus after visiting the city of Qom. Qom is the center of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran.
According to several reports, Mohammed Ali Ramezani, a recently elected member of the Iranian parliament from Astaneh Ashrafiyeh in northern Iran, tested positive for coronavirus and died on Feb. 29. Mohammed Ali Vakili, another member of the Majlis, tweeted that four other fellow lawmakers had been infected with the virus. Cleric Hadi Khosroshahi, who was Iran's former ambassador to the Vatican, died as a result of having coronavirus. And, a day after stating on TV that there was no problem in Iran concerning the coronavirus, Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi also announced that he had tested positive.
After the truth was revealed, many countries in the region, including Kuwait, Pakistan, Armenia and Afghanistan, stopped flights to and from Iran and some closed their borders with Iran. The manager of public communication in Iran’s Ministry of Health and Medical Education was furious, stating, according to the Etemaad newspaper: “I am too angry about (coronavirus). For 45 days, we have been saying that we haven't seen signs of it, yet some say that they have seen it but don’t announce it due to the Feb. 11 (governmental) ceremony. Later, they said that we didn't announce it due to the elections. They later said that we will not announce it because of the Nowruz celebrations.”
The Iranian regime’s mishandling of the crisis and its attempts to hide and downplay the scope of the coronavirus in the country have sparked anger and fury inside Iran and abroad. Once again, the regime’s actions show its total disregard for human lives.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh