The State Department says that Iran is imprisoning whistleblowers who are posting numbers of infections and deaths from the coronavirus that are at odds with the official government line.
This isn’t surprising given the totalitarian nature of the regime. But the Iranian people are the ones suffering the consequences of the government’s lies as they’re kept in the dark about the extent and seriousness of the problem.
“The regime has imprisoned dozens of Iranians for sharing statistics and forced hospital officials across Iran to falsify the number of cases and deaths,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
The Iranian regime claims the numbers of those infected and dead stand at 24,811 and 1,934, respectively. But the United States and other observers say there are far more casualties. In a bid to keep the actual infection rate and death toll secret, Iranian officials have resorted to violence and subterfuge. Their efforts include enlisting U.S. allies in a campaign to weaken the Trump administration’s tough economic sanctions on the country, a move that could provide the regime with billions in cash.
The whistleblowers say that the true number of dead is closer to 6,000.
Iran, through its state-controlled press organs, claims 8,913 citizens have recovered from the coronavirus as of Tuesday evening. Several senior Iranian leaders have already died from the illness, while others have been forced to admit they are infected. The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group that seeks to depose the hardline government, alleges that nearly 6,000 Iranians have died from coronavirus as of last week. The group said its data were collected by dissidents operating inside the country.
As Iranian officials mislead the international media about the scope of the situation in their country, they also have seized on the virus as an opportunity to push for full-scale sanctions relief.
Tehran is begging the IMF for $5 billion in emergency funds. The EU is already sending Iran 20 million euros in relief funds.
The question is, in a regime that obviously cares little for its citizens, just where do you think that money is going to go?
This money has emerged as a flashpoint within the Trump administration and among its allies on Capitol Hill. Critics in the administration are concerned the cash will not be used for medical purposes, but to fund Tehran’s terrorist proxies across the Middle East. The Iranian regime already stands accused of stealing more than $1 billion in humanitarian aid.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo challenged Iranian leaders on Monday in a blunt statement outlining the regime’s lies. Billing his statement as a fact check on the regime, Pompeo accused Iranian officials of pocketing more than a billion dollars in humanitarian funds that should have been used to combat the coronavirus.
“Regime officials stole over a billion euros intended for medical supplies,” Pompeo said.
The Iranian government is one of the more factionalized governments in the world today. Supreme Leader Khamenei takes care of those factions by giving them lucrative industries to run and a healthy cut of international aid money.
Also with their hands-out are the religious authorities and the Revolutionary Guard, which keeps the lid on domestic unrest as well as spreading terrorism through the region. By the time everyone gets their cut, there’s precious little left for the general population.
If humanitarian aid is necessary, the EU and the IMF should insist on strict, international controls so that the cash goes where it’s needed most. If Iran doesn’t like it — and they won’t — they can leave it. Like the Democrats in the U.S. Congress, the Iranian regime is looking to take advantage of the crisis to advance their own agenda.
And like the Democrats, they shouldn’t be allowed to do so.