Iranian doctors joined Mahsa Amini’s protests

Iranian doctors joined Mahsa Amini’s protests


On October 26, hundreds of doctors gathered outside the Medical Council of Iran in Tehran to protest the presence of security forces in hospitals and the arrest and intimidation of their colleagues during two months of nationwide unrest.

The protesters formed small groups. Some chanted “Death to the dictator,” a general protest against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader.

Security forces, mostly plainclothes agents, had set up positions around the building and vans were parked nearby to transport those arrested. Then, without warning, police on motorcycles began firing metal pellets into the crowd, two witnesses told The Washington Post.

“They were shooting guns, non-stop, everyone started running,” said a doctor who gave a written account of the attack.

“They used shotguns [with pellets], truncheons and tear gas without restrictions,” recalled another doctor. “They beat a young female dentist and an old doctor of about 70 years old [years old] on their heads, and they fell to the ground.’

The Post could not independently verify their accounts, which were shared on condition of anonymity to avoid retaliation. But they were confirmed by activists and other media reports. Shocking video of the attack posted online shows people screaming and trying to run as shots rang out.

Iranian doctors were among the first question the official explanation for the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the “morality police” in mid-September and are now under increasing pressure. As the insurgency enters its eighth week, the Islamic republic’s most persistent challenge in decades, the government is punishing medical staff for treating injured protesters.

What happened on October 26 was the most direct confrontation yet between the authorities and the Iranian medical community. Deputy Head of Tehran Medical Council said he was pushed when trying to help a female doctor and who was the head of the council punched him in the face a time of chaos. Both resigned on the same day amid reports of the doctors’ arrest. The others posted pictures Bruises and bloody cuts they received during the crackdown are seen on social media.

“It’s really the intervention of security agents inside medical facilities that has armed the medical community, and now they themselves are being targeted,” said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran in New York. – based advocacy group.

Since the protests began, security forces have positioned themselves inside hospitals to track down and arrest protesters and pressured medical staff to report them. As arrests mounted, many protesters began to avoid hospitals, leading sympathetic doctors to offer care at home, often at great personal risk.

As protests rock Iran, its most dangerous security forces lie in wait

“Doctors are no different from Iranian society. they are part of the community,” said London-based hematologist-oncologist Shahram Kordasti, who has been in contact with Iranian doctors during the protests. “They suffer in the same way as everyone else.”

Doctors and activists say few hospitals now provide treatment without registering a patient’s national identification number, an easy way for security forces to track wounded protesters. Some protesters even went to vets to avoid detection and arrest.

Doctors and activists say plainclothes forces are also targeting pharmacies. If someone walks in to buy sterile drapes for an injured friend or relative, agents can confront them on the spot or, more likely, follow them to arrest them when they find someone in need of medical attention.

The ever-present threat of surveillance has led to the creation of an informal online network where protesters can disclose their injuries and contact a monitor, who then connects them to a doctor in their area, if one is available. The code system is used to minimize the possibility of security agents infiltrating the network, according to a doctor involved in the effort.

These chains also distribute medicine, but obtaining supplies from local pharmacies has become difficult; Plans are being discussed to get drugs outside of Iran to reduce the chances of detection, the doctor told The Post on condition of anonymity.

A Twitter account set up two weeks ago called Emdadgaran Enghelab, or Helpers of the Revolution, offers detailed help to protesters in Persian. The account already has more than 18,000 followers.

A recent post included an animated step-by-step graphic showing how to remove metal pellets commonly fired by security forces and how to properly clean and dress wounds. Other publications advise protesters on how to deal with head injuries and pepper spray.

“We teach people how to take care of themselves,” a group member told The Post, citing “gunshot wounds, blunt force trauma from clubs, penetrating trauma like stab wounds, and exposure to riot gas as the most common.” “. the injuries of protesters.

Tactics of repression. How Iran is trying to stop Mahsa Amini’s protests

According to doctors and activists, government forces tried to disguise their presence in and around the protests, using ambulances both to transport security personnel and to hold detained protesters.

“A responsible government uses an ambulance to treat the wounded,” said Sahar Motallebi, an Iranian doctor and former UN staffer in Sweden. “This government uses ambulances to detain people.”

It is the misuse of medical equipment and the infiltration of hospitals, according to doctors, that prompted them to join the insurgency. Three days after the crackdown in Tehran, the head of the medical council of the northeastern city of Mashhad and his wife, who is also a member of the council, were arrested for allegedly organizing a protest organized by medical staff last week. the third doctor to speak at the event.

On the day the doctors were arrested in Mashhad, medical students at the Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences held their own demonstration hundreds of miles away in the western city of Sanandaj. a video shows students in white lab coats running for cover as shots are fired and security guards storm the campus.

“The biggest supporters of the protesters are the medical staff,” Motallebi said, but “the situation is becoming increasingly dangerous for them. [them]”.

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