Revolution #170, July 19, 2009

From A World To Win News Service

Tehran doctor: "The authorities are covering up the number of dead"

July 13, 2009. A World to Win News Service. Following are excerpts from an account by a Tehran doctor that appeared in the UK Guardian July 9. His name and other details were not published.

I have been working in a public hospital in Tehran over the last few weeks. The authorities are covering up the number of dead protesters and their causes of death. The official statistic is 20 dead—that's wrong. In our hospital alone there were 38 riot deaths in the first week. Most died from gunshot wounds.

A colleague told me that in his hospital there were a further 36 gunshot casualties and 10 deaths. Four public hospitals admitted wounded protesters during the riots, but it is hard to know the total figure of dead. Other hospitals were prevented from helping. Basiji militiamen attacked doormen in one hospital for letting in wounded protesters. In the hospitals that were allowed to function, the Basijis replaced the hospital admissions staff and took the IDs of wounded patients.

Medical staff are under huge pressure to cover up the injuries they treated; I know one doctor who killed themself.

If the patients died of gunshot wounds, the Basiji confiscated their bodies and told the families they had been "transferred" for organ donation. They removed the bullets and returned the bodies with a different postmortem report. By the second week the Basiji were better organised and took the bodies directly from the streets. There were many dead the hospitals never saw.

As for the injuries, they speak for themselves. There were multiple points of gunshot impact—proving the authorities were shooting liberally. Their victims were indiscriminate.

Two pregnant women were shot—one through the spleen, she survived and the other died. For the latter, the authorities say a photograph of her circulating the Internet had been taken in another country, but that's not correct. She was wounded, treated and died in Tehran. They shot her three times. One bullet penetrated the foetus's spine.

How can a doctor lie on his medical records after operating on a case like that?

Many of my friends and my cousin even (who was wounded) saw snipers up on the rooftops during the protests. They said these snipers were targeting people through their rifle lenses. The injuries we witnessed in hospital testify to this. One 32-year-old patient had gunshot impact entering the sub-umbilical region with an exit wound on the thigh, which proves the bullet came from above.

From what I have seen and heard, this medical cover-up has been happening all over the country. But unofficially, medical staff report dead in Isfahan, in Shiraz, in many places. Like here, the authorities are making sure the hospitals don't reveal the numbers...

Prison is a question of luck. If you get arrested by the Basiji and taken to a Basiji centre—that's the worst. The Basiji are not supposed to have centres of their own, they are meant to deliver to the prisons, but they have their own rooms—and that's the most dangerous place to be.

Then there's Evin prison. I have one cousin who was taken there for the last student uprising. There is a huge empty room where they ask you to identify protesters. If they sense you are afraid, they force you into confessing anything and identifying anybody. It's not so much what you say as the fact they debased you.

Most protesters are moved from prison to prison, so they become untraceable. Knowing the cover-up in the hospitals, I worry many protesters might be "untraceable" forever.

A World to Win News Service is put out by A World to Win magazine (, a political and theoretical review inspired by the formation of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement, the embryonic center of the world’s Marxist-Leninist-Maoist parties and organizations.

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