Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has used the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Iran to consolidate his power.
Indeed, as the rest of the world fights the coronavirus together, uniting political opponents and pausing wars, the regime yet again sees this as their chance to suppress the people of Iran.
This has been easily visible since the start of the outbreak in January, which the regime covered up to ensure bigger crowds at their revolution anniversary parades and a higher voter turnout during the election. (Although, it should be noted that those who could boycotted these events over their hatred of the regime.)
The regime had already seen two uprisings in three months, which led to the deaths of at least 1,500 protesters, as well as an international outcry over the murders of the protesters and the regime’s shooting down of the Ukrainian passenger jet. They needed to use a massive PR campaign to trick the world into thinking that the regime still had the support of their people. (In case it wasn’t obvious, the mullahs have no such support and hardly anyone was fooled.)
Still, the regime covered up the coronavirus to boost their PR campaigns and didn’t admit to having any cases until two people died on February 19. Documents gathered by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and comments from Iranian officials and healthcare workers show that the regime was well aware of the disease at least a month before that.
By the time, Iran admitted having cases, they’d already spread it across the Middle East, causing thousands more deaths.
Now, more than 34,000 people have died and there are no signs that the virus is slowing down or under control. Yet still, the regime continues to ignore and downplay the crisis.
They’ve even increased the powers of their repressive forces and plan to put state-security forces on the streets in anti-riot vehicles to scare people into not publicly mourning their dead and not talking to the media out of fear of arrest or worse.
The regime has also sent security forces to medical centers and hospitals to ensure that deaths are being recorded falsely and that staff and patients are not talking to outside sources. Meanwhile, the regime is also desperate to block access to the internet.
The mullahs claim that this is to stop the spread of the virus by ensuring people stay in their homes and don’t come to hospital unnecessarily. But how is cutting off the internet necessary to fight the virus? Furthermore, the regime wants to open up the country’s non-essential work next week. How does that fit in with the narrative?
The truth is that the regime is targeting those who reveal real information about the outbreak, including firing medical staff who exposed the regime’s lies. They are also using the virus to kill prisoners, either letting them die through lack of treatment and refusal of temporary eave, or executing them outright.