Reporters Without Borders: Iran conceals coronavirus figures

In a statement on Wednesday, the Reporters Without Borders Organization condemned Iran's regime for concealing information about the coronavirus outtbreak and the real number of the dead and the infected patients. 

The Statement is as follows:

According to Iranian official reports today, the coronavirus epidemic has killed 15 people and infected a total of 95 in the Islamic Republic, which seems to be concealing information about the epidemic in line with China’s example. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns Iran’s persecution of media outlets and journalists publishing independent information.

The presence of the coronavirus known as Covid-19 in Iran was suddenly revealed when pro-government media reported on 20 February that two Iranians had died in the holy city of Qom after testing positive for the virus. Since then, the authorities insist they have the situation under control but they have refused to publish exact figures for deaths and infections and have obstructed journalists trying to cover the story.

Qom parliamentary representative Ahmad Amir Abadi Farahani drew attention to an example of the government’s disinformation in a statement to the press the next day. “The epidemic began three weeks ago but the health ministry delayed announcing it,” he claimed. “In two weeks, 50 people have been killed by the virus in Qom.” The initial source of the outbreak is said to have been a Koranic school in the city that receives Muslim religious students from China...

Health ministry director-general Iraj Harirchi immediately denied Frahani’s claim and, using the term employed two days earlier by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, condemned a “propaganda war.” The next day, both Frahani and Harirchi were told that they were infected with the virus. In response to the online protests, the head of the FTA cyber-police force, Vahid Majid, announced that around 30 people have been arrested in various provinces and charged with “spreading false news online about the spread of the virus.”

“For the past year, the Islamic Republic has been concealing information about crises and catastrophes, about floodingmass protests and the downing of the Ukrainian passenger jet,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran desk. “Respect for the public’s right to full, independent, diverse and quality news reporting, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is the best way to protect the population and combat rumors. Withholding information can kill.”

 

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