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Thursday, July 09, 2009
Death toll much higher

Today, the Guardian reported that it had “an account by a doctor working in Tehran who says the death toll from the protests following Iran’s disputed election is much higher than the official figure of 20.”

Here is some of what the unnamed physician wrote:

I have been working in a public hospital in Tehran over the last few weeks. The authorities are covering up the number of dead protesters and their causes of death. The official statistic is 20 dead – that’s wrong. In our hospital alone there were 38 riot deaths in the first week. Most died from gunshot wounds.

A colleague told me that in his hospital there were a further 36 gunshot casualties and 10 deaths. Four public hospitals admitted wounded protesters during the riots, but it is hard to know the total figures of dead. Other hospitals were prevented from helping. Basiji militiamen attacked doormen in one hospital for letting in wounded protesters. In the hospitals that were allowed to function, the basijis replaced the hospital admissions staff and took the IDs of wounded patients.

Medical staff are under huge pressure to cover up the injuries they treated. I know one doctor who killed themself.

If the patients died of gunshot wounds the basiji confiscated their bodies and told the families they had been “transferred” for organ donation. They removed the bullets and returned the bodies with a different postmortem report. By the second week the basiji were better organised and took the bodies directly from the streets. There were many dead the hospitals never saw.

As for the injuries, they speak for themselves. There were multiple points of gunshot impact – proving the authorities were shooting liberally. Their victims were indiscriminate.

Two pregnant women were shot – one through the spleen, she survived and the other died. For the latter, the authorities say a photograph of her circulating the internet had been taken in another country, but that's not correct. She was wounded, treated and died in Tehran. They shot her three times. One bullet penetrated the foetus's spine.

Many of my friends and my cousin even (who was wounded) saw snipers up on the rooftops during the protests. They said these snipers were targeting people through their rifle lenses. The injuries we witnessed in hospital testify to this. One 32-year-old patient had gunshot impact entering the sub-umbilical region with an exit wound on the thigh, which proves the bullet came from above.

From what I have seen and heard, this medical cover-up has been happening all over the country. But unofficially, medical staff report dead in Isfahan, in Shiraz, in many places. Like here, the authorities are making sure the hospitals don't reveal the numbers.

There is a lot more in this report, I encourage you to read it and pass it along.

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posted at 9:10 AM

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