All posts filed under: Iran

Iran’s failed Covid-19 vaccination campaign due to ‘political power struggle’

Iran’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign has been rife with complications: videos shared online show queues up to a hundred metres long as people wait for hours to be vaccinated, with doses sometimes running out long before everyone receives their jab. Others show thousands of people rushing to the border with Armenia in search of a dose. According to our Observer, an Iranian doctor, these predicaments are the result of political rivalries and the failure of Iran’s vaccine strategy. In Iran, a country of 82 million people, only 4.7 million people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while just 2.2 million are fully vaccinated. So far, people 60 years of age and older are the only ones eligible for vaccination. Videos shared online show elderly men and women waiting in line for hours before they can get vaccinated. Many others – mostly young, middle-class Iranians who are not yet eligible for vaccination and don’t expect to receive their vaccines in Iran anytime soon – have found their solution abroad, either in Dubai or Armenia, …

Video of street drug use illustrates Iran’s growing addiction problem

A video posted on Telegram in Iran on May 16 shows dozens of men and women openly consuming drugs on a Tehran street. Some inhale amphetamines while others inject heroin, in a scene that shocked many Iranians. According to our Observers, this video illustrates a growing addiction problem that has become more and more visible in the streets of southern Tehran. The video was taken in Neshati Alley, a street in an impoverished neighbourhood of southern Tehran. Although the exact date the video was taken is unknown, this phenomenon is becoming increasingly more common. According to our Observers, more and more open drug use has taken place in these neighbourhoods over the past two years. Places like Neshati Alley, in the Shush neighbourhood, are known as regular gathering points for drug users, many of them homeless. A 2-minute video recorded on an unknown date in southern Tehran shows men and women openly consuming heroin and amphetamine in the street. This 2-minute video shows a typical scene in one of southern Tehran’s neighbourhoods. People gathered on …

From hospitals to amusement parks, Iranians grapple with surprise power outages

Lifts and amusement park rides grinding to a halt, businesses, and employees left in the dark, hospital equipment stopping suddenly … People around Iran have been experiencing regular power outages since the beginning of May. While the state energy distributor has tried to schedule these outages to align with energy demands, our Observers tell us that power cuts have been more frequent, and lengthier, than planned. Iranians have been reporting daily, prolonged power cuts since early May, leading to widespread inconveniences and dangerous consequences. People have been left without air conditioning, internet connections, water, and even life-saving medical devices. The Iran Grid Management Company (IGMC), responsible for electricity provision in Iran, released a timetable for scheduled power outages around the country, which they say have resulted from insufficient energy production. As Iranian citizens adapt to these inconveniences, the source of the power outages remains unclear. While an IGMC announcement on May 23 cited insufficient energy production levels, energy officials have pointed to several potential causes. Some referenced energy-intensive Bitcoin farms in Iran, while others blamed …

The real scam behind Iran’s underground female MMA fights

On May 27, a video of what appears to be a professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fight between two women began to make the rounds on Iranian social media. The match, which took place in the suburbs of Tehran, caught the attention of many. It was the first time that an underground MMA fight – forbidden for women in the Islamic Republic – was caught on tape. But according to our Observer, this video actually shows a widespread scam taking advantage of female MMA hopefuls. Just like underground female bodybuilding competitions or ballet dancing, these female MMA tournaments are kept under wraps but well known among sportsmen and journalists in Iran. Now, for the first time, a video of this phenomenon was released. The video, which according to our Observer was filmed in Shahriar, a suburb of Iran’s capital Tehran, shows two women fighting MMA-style in a boxing ring located in what seems to be a private villa. We hear two other women coaching the fighters as well as a man who advises the referee …

Hiding a symbolic mass grave of political prisoners by forcing a persecuted minority to bury top of it

Members of Iran’s persecuted Baha’i community were shocked when, in April, the government announced that the only place they would be able to bury their loved ones was on top of mass graves containing political prisoners executed in the 1980s. Activists say this policy is an attempt by the government to erase any trace of the mass executions carried out by the Islamic Republic. These photos, which were published on Telegram in April, show about a dozen freshly dug graves, two of which contain bodies, in an overgrown patch in Khavaran cemetery, located to the east of Tehran. But the unassuming field is actually the site of mass graves containing the bodies of political prisoners who were executed in the years following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the majority of them in 1988. These photos show graves recently dug by members of the Baha’i community in Khavaran, a site that already contains mass graves from the 1980s. These photos were taken on April 23 and published on Telegram. According to Article 13 of the Iranian Constitution, …

‘There isn’t a single stretcher left’ in Iran as ‘apocalyptic’ wave of Covid-19 hits

Iranians are facing a fourth wave of Covid-19 and it is shaping up to be the worst since the start of the pandemic. According to official figures, there are no beds left in life support units anywhere in Iran. And there are no beds available in any units of the 100 hospitals in Tehran, the capital. With no hope of rapid, widespread vaccination any time soon, healthcare workers are at a crisis point. Around 500 people a day are dying of Covid-19 in Iran, according to official statistics, though the actual number could be higher. The official pandemic death toll has risen to 70,000— a number that, according to Iran’s Scientific Council, has been underreported and could, in reality, be four times higher. READ MORE: Authorities in Iran ‘hiding’ COVID-19 deaths by listing other causes on death reports Last year, the FRANCE 24 Observers team published a series of articles about the way the pandemic had severely impacted the country, but all of the healthcare workers that we interviewed in the past few days said …

Torture and humiliation reported norm at Iran’s rehab facilities

A video that started circulating on Telegram on January 29 shows staff at a rehab facility in Iran forcing patients to swim in a pool of freezing water, while others are beaten with a baton. According to our Observer, this kind of cruelty is commonplace in Iran’s rehab facilities. The video was filmed on January 13 in the Nourandishan rehab facility, where the majority of people in the facility were placed by judicial order. The centre is located in Qalat, a village about 45 kilometres from the city of Shiraz, in central Iran. On January 30, the Shiraz district attorney announced that five men had been arrested in connection with the incident shown in the video. The footage shows the rehab centre’s employees forcing patients to swim in an icy pool, even though outside temperatures were fluctuating between -3 and 2 degrees Celsius (26.6 to 35.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The footage also shows staff hitting patients with batons and shouting insults like “son of a b…” . “Yeah, it’s another universe here, it’s Qalat,” says the …

Some Iranian children are literally climbing mountains to access online school

Some Iranian children are finding virtual school harder than others. Photos have recently emerged on social media of children in rural areas who literally have to climb a mountain every day to find an internet connection strong enough so that they can attend their online classes. People have been especially shocked by the image of a child who fell and was injured on his dangerous hike to access the internet. We spoke to one teacher who feels utterly helpless in the face of the situation. Iran has one of the highest Covid-19 rates in the Middle East, with more than 43,000 officially recorded deaths. However, even officials at the Ministry of Health admit that the actual number of dead is likely three or four times that number. Most schools across Iran have been closed, except for a few schools in rural areas. The Iranian government is pushing for all students to stay home and attend online classes using an application called Shad, which was developed by the Ministry of Education. However, to participate in distance …

Iranian influencer poses with skulls, artifacts in an unexplored archeological site

Iranian Instagram influencer Soheil Taghavi posed with skulls, bones, and pieces of pottery at the unexplored Tasuki archeological site in southeast Iran in a video that he hoped would go viral. But many people across Iran were shocked by the video, especially lovers of history and archeology. Our Observer explains that even moving the smallest object in this kind of site can jeopardize future digs and ruin important discoveries about the past. On Instagram, Soheil Taghavi describes himself as a tour guide. He has 29,000 followers. In the videos that he posted of his visit to the Tasuki archeological site, Taghavi digs in the ground and pulls out skulls and bones, then poses with them in front of the camera. “I gathered up the best preserved pieces for you”, he says at one point. “Now is the moment to share my page so your friends can see these cool things, too,” he says, smiling. ‘Just touching these artefacts with bare hands could damage them’ Fatemeh Aliasghar is an Iranian journalist who has written extensively about …

How sheep smuggling has become a lucrative yet dangerous business on the Iran-Iraq border

The financial crisis currently gripping Iran has led to a dramatic increase in sheep smuggling across the border with Iraq, a region that is home to many Kurds. While some sheep owners are making a large profit from this illegal activity, it’s dangerous for those on the ground. Several locals have been injured during clashes between smugglers and the Iranian police, who have arrested dozens of people in the region. A lot of smuggling takes place in the predominantly Kurdish regions surrounding the border between Iran and Iraq. Some of the most common items carried across the border are cigarettes, alcohol and electrical appliances. Smugglers are known locally as “kulbar”. Each year, several dozen of them die, killed by Iranian border guards, landmines or the harsh winters in this mountainous zone. The FRANCE 24 Observers team has reported several stories on the kulbar operating in this region. In the past month, several videos documenting sheep smuggling – the latest lucrative but dangerous activity to emerge in the region – have appeared on social media. A …