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article imageIranian Authorities Accused of Concealing True Death Toll

By Chris Dade     Jul 16, 2009 in World
In a continuation of the deep mistrust and bitterness that has dogged Iran since the disputed Presidential election in June, come fresh accusations that the true number of people who were killed in the ensuing street protests has not been disclosed.
According to the Iranian authorities 20 people in total lost their lives whilst demonstrating against the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during the weeks following June 12.
But other sources inside the country, including three hospitals in the capital Tehran, have reported that the deaths on one day alone, June 20, amounted to 34, with the staff at the Imam Khomeini Hospital apparently being able to confirm that they dealt with 19 of those deaths. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran states that a further 8 deaths were reported at the Rasool Akram Hospital and another 7 at the Loghman Hospital.
And families searching for missing loved ones have said that they have witnessed in one instance "corpses piled on top of each other in a refrigeration depot". In its report on the situation the Guardian newspaper also tells of a woman, searching for her son, who was given up to 60 pictures of people who had died to look at, in an attempt to discover his fate.
Parvin Fahimi, an activist with the group Mothers for Peace, was the woman in question and believed her son was being detained by the authorities. However when shown the pictures by a revolutionary court she recognized her son, 19 year old Sohrab Aarabi, and subsequently learned that he was shot and fatally wounded on June 15 whilst attending a protest in Tehran. It had taken nearly a month for her to finally establish that she would never see her son alive again. An English translation of a moving letter Ms Fahimi has written about her search for her son can be read on The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran website.
It is claimed that the authorities in Iran have used various methods to suppress the details of the actual numbers killed during the unrest in the country. Apparently they have sometimes coerced families into signing documents acknowledging that their loved ones died in an accident or by natural causes. On other occasions they have been forced to state that their deceased family member served with the Basij militia. The Basij are the volunteer militia who were active during the protests in Iran, assisting the authorities, including the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to whom they report, to disperse the crowds that had assembled.
One of the organizations active in highlighting the cover-up of which the authorities are accused is the Islamic Participation Front. The Front is a long established reformist party whose former Secretary-General is the brother of former Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami. Mr Khatami is actually a member of another political grouping within Iran but was a publicly declared supporter of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the main reformist candidate, during the June election.
In further news of the situation in Iran, The Guardian has spoken of concerns of a tense atmosphere tomorrow during Friday prayers at Tehran University. Mir-Hossein Mousavi will be present at the prayers when he will hear Hashemi Rafsanjani, another former President of Iran who supported Mr Mousavi's candidacy for the position, address the assembled crowd. Supporters of present incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have already indicated that they will cause disruption to the prayers.
Iran may not have disappeared from the front pages of the world's newspapers entirely, the controversy regarding its nuclear program will probably ensure that does not happen, but there has been something of a lull in news of any public campaign by those who challenge the legitimacy of President Ahmadinejad.
More about Iran, Mousavi, Ahmadinejad
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