Report: Iran Arrests Man for Photographing Piles of Coronavirus Victim Bodies

Reports out of Iran indicate that police apprehended an unnamed man this week after a video surfaced showing piles of corpses, presumably of Chinese coronavirus victims, at a mortuary in Qom, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
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Reports out of Iran indicate that police apprehended an unnamed man this week after a video surfaced showing piles of corpses, presumably of Chinese coronavirus victims, at a mortuary in Qom, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Following the publication of the video on social media, multiple reports have corroborated evidence that Iran is experiencing an extremely high coronavirus death rate, potentially much higher than the official government numbers. CNN published a report Thursday similarly relaying the dire images of piles of bodies too large for government health workers to know what to do with and confirming that Iranian state media admitted the video was real.

The Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya reported the arrest of the unnamed man on Wednesday, citing Iran International TV. It did not offer any details regarding if the man was indeed arrested in Qom or where Iranian police took him, as Iran admitted to freeing tens of thousands of prisoners this week in an attempt to prevent a pandemic within the prison system.

Similarly, the New York Post reported the arrest of one person in association with the filming of the video but offered no more information on the person. The Post noted that the online origin of the video appeared to be Iranian journalist Mohamad Ahwaze, who described the whistleblower behind the video as a member of the medical staff attempting to handle the crisis.

The gruesome video shows bodies in black bags lined on the floor at a health facility; the narrator, in Farsi, reportedly describes them as coronavirus victims and laments that the government’s ineptitude has made it impossible to offer these individuals a proper burial. The video does not offer any proof of the fact that the individuals in question died of coronavirus disease, but CNN reported that an Iranian broadcaster did confirm that the video is real.

Warning: Graphic Images

In a report Thursday, CNN appeared to confirm that the video was legitimate and identify its origin as the Behesht-e Masoumeh morgue in Qom.

“Under Islamic tradition in Iran, corpses are typically washed with soap and water before burial. But two medical workers in Qom told CNN that in some cases precautions related to the outbreak are preventing staff from observing traditional Islamic guidelines for burial,” the outlet reported. “Instead, they said the bodies of those confirmed to have coronavirus at the time of death are being treated with calcium oxide, to prevent them from contaminating the soil once buried in cemeteries.”

CNN also relayed an interview on Iranian state television with the director of the morgue, Ali Ramezani, who claimed that any delays causing bodies to pile up were the product of families choosing “that we keep their deceased, for a day or two, until their [coronavirus] test results are completed.”

Iran’s Health Ministry confirmed the deaths of 124 people in the country as a result of Chinese coronavirus infection and claimed to have confirmed 4,747 total cases, as of Friday morning. An overnight surge of more than 1,000 confirmed cases occurred as a result of more testing being done, the Ministry insisted, not as a result of the virus spreading more rapidly.

Opposition groups with sources within the country have insisted the official government numbers are significantly lower than the real total of people affected by the outbreak. The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), a global opposition group to the Islamic regime, claimed on Friday that its sources in the Iranian healthcare system have evidence for nearly 1,500 coronavirus deaths.

“The scale of the virus spread and death rate in Iran is dramatically more extensive and catastrophic, to the extent that if not contained, hundreds of thousands of Iranians would be vulnerable to infection and death as a result of the regime’s incompetence, lack of sufficient resources to confront the virus and a corrupt ruling elite,” PMOI said in a report published Thursday, noting that Iran’s incompetence has been extraordinary, according to its sources, even compared to China’s, a nation that hid the outbreak from the world and its own public for over a month:

According to official facts and figures, the death rate in Iran is not comparable to any other country in the world. Whereas in the worst cases of Chinese infection the rate of death in the 8 to 10 first days had been reported to be around 2% and in worst cases 5%, in Iran the percentage has been obviously much higher. For example, on February 27, nine days after the Coronavirus was detected in Iran for the first time, the death rate was around 12% and on February 28 around 9%. The rate dropped to 4% on March 4, and slightly above 3% on March 5, revealing the fact that Iranian official figures are absolutely unreliable, and that the extent of crisis was far greater than what the mullahs portrayed.

In a statement to Breitbart News, Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an opposition coalition that includes the PMOI/MEK, “called on physicians, nurses and hospital staff to publicize their information quickly in order to save the lives of the Iranian people and to thwart the regime’s cover-up and misleading information.”

The statement continued:

She emphasized that the United Nations, World Health Organization, and other international human rights organizations must compel the religious fascism ruling Iran to make public all the facts and figures regarding COVID-19 and provide them to relevant international organizations in order to save the lives of the people of Iran and other countries in the region. 

The outbreak has notably affected the highest levels of the Iranian Islamic regime. Officials have confirmed that at least 23 lawmakers have tested positive for the virus. A senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died after testing positive for the virus last week. This week, Iranian news agencies confirmed the death of a former Iranian ambassador to Syria. Iran’s vice president and the head of coronavirus response at the Health Ministry both tested positive for the virus.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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