Ambassador Ken Blackwell, a former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, in an article published on the American Thinker website on Friday, discussed the coronavirus outbreak in Iran and its impact on the Iranian people and the international community, which also shows the regime’s destructive influence.
“In Iran, official estimates of the infection rate and death toll from coronavirus keep accelerating. But even after recording 54 deaths on Tuesday alone, the regime’s narrative of the local epidemic is still nowhere near reality,” he wrote.
While referring to the coronavirus outbreak death toll, previously announced by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and the National Council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) as 3,000, which has now surpassed 4,000, Ambassador Blackwell wrote: “According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — a coalition leading the push for a democratic alternative to the clerical regime — more than 3,000 deaths can already be attributed to an outbreak that has encompassed 139 cities across every Iranian province.”
“This information comes from intelligence-gathering by the NCRI’s main constituent group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). The MEK maintains an elaborate network throughout Iranian society and inside the regime. Several of its activists have lost their lives while helping the virus victims, it said. It has previously proven to be a reliable source of information about various other matters, including the clerical regime’s clandestine nuclear work and anti-regime protests,” read the article.
Pointing to a revelation by the NCRI about the extent of the regime’s cover-up of the coronavirus outbreak as well as its inaction, Ambassador Blackwell wrote: “The NCRI issued a full report on the scale of Iran’s COVID-19 outbreak on March 10. As well as contradicting Tehran’s lowball estimates for the numbers of infections and deaths, the report details the ways in which authorities bungled their response to early reports of the illness spreading from China to Iran. It also notes that the epidemic is rapidly spreading within a number of Iranian prisons, facilitated in large part by the regime’s chronic disregard for the well-being of prisoners, especially political prisoners.”
“The president-elect of National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi, earlier urged human rights–defenders and the international community to ‘take urgent action to save the lives of the prisoners and prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe.’ There is little evidence that anyone internationally has taken serious action,” wrote Ambassador Blackwell, quoting the NCRI’s president-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.
“The new report highlights the ways in which the coronavirus outbreak is refocusing a longstanding conflict between the Iranian regime and its people. It notes, for instance, that both President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have attempted to cover up the coronavirus spread,” he added.
Pointing to the criminal hoarding of medical supplies by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) instead of helping people, Ambassador Blackwell wrote: “Medical supplies have been misappropriated, under-utilized, or hoarded and resold by corrupt institutions tied to the clerical regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).”
“Mrs. Rajavi has said that ‘the country’s medical and health care resources … must be put at the disposal of the Iranian people, hospitals, and physicians,’ instead of being left with the likes of security forces and the IRGC,” he added.
While referring to the regime’s refusal to quarantine Qom, the epicenter of COVID-19 in the first place, which indeed cause the spread of this deadly virus across Iran, Ambassador Blackwell wrote: “The ayatollahs rejected the concept of large-scale quarantine out of hand, leading to the disease spreading like wildfire from its singular hub in the holy city of Qom. The decision to leave Qom open to travel and tourism has led the situation to escalate to a point at which numerous other countries are implementing their own measures to isolate Iran.”
“These measures, unfortunately, are part of a reaction to the damage the Iranian regime has already done beyond its own borders. COVID-19 involving people who traveled to Iran has been recorded in around ten other countries in the region, as well as Australia, Canada, and the United States. In fact, at a time when the spread of the virus seems to have been largely contained in China, where it originally came from, it is now using Iran as perhaps its greatest single vector for global transmission,” he added.
“It would be wise for the international community to think of this as a metaphor for the Iranian regime’s overall role in the region and the world. The worsening epidemic is a testament to the mullahs’ disregard for the welfare of Iran’s own people and humanity overall. To the mullahs, the only thing that matters is their hold on power,” Ambassador Blackwell added, urging the international community to stand by the Iranian people.
“Unless the Iranian people have an opportunity to take hold of their own affairs, the coronavirus death toll will only accelerate. And even if the damage from this one crisis proves to be something less than irreparable, there will inevitably be others that showcase the regime’s same destructive impulses,” he added.
“The international community should take this time to consider how they will stand with the participants in such an uprising. Doing so, in one way or another, would benefit not just the Iranian people’s welfare, but also the long-term prospects for democracy in the Middle East and peace throughout the world,” Ambassador Blackwell concluded.