Monday, July 6, 2009

92 Killed in Tehran Say Doctors Who Fled

One of a pair of Iranian doctors, who fled the capital to France says an unofficial tally by medical staff at Tehran area hospitals counted 92 violent deaths related to conflicts with security forces. The death toll is considerably at variance with an official figure of 17 deaths.

The account of events in Tehran by the doctors, who declined to be identified for reasons of personal safety has been published today in the online edition of the French newspaper Le Figaro. They say that intimidation prevented them revealing the scale of casualties but motivated them to flee to France to reveal the details.

Among the dead were an eight months pregnant woman and six young males found dead in Shahriar, on the outskirts of the capital. "They all died from wounds in the neck," said the second unidentified doctor, quoting information from a trusted medical colleague. "Their skulls had been smashed and their brains had been opened, presumably to retrieve the bullet and destroy evidence of the crime."

On June 15th, dubbed "Black Monday" by the second doctor, the Rasoul Akram Hospital, near Tehran University, received 38 casualties, including 28 wounded and 10 dead.

"We found that the bullets had passed through the torsos diagonally, which means they were fired from above - ie a roof," says the second doctor.

To conceal the nature of the assaults, doctors at Tehran hospitals were forced to certify that the deceased died of natural causes. A colleague of the second doctor who was on emergency duty at Erfan Hospital, paid a price for refusing to cooperate. "After being missing for thirty-six hours, he was found half-conscious and disfigured on the sidewalk near the hospital," he told Le Figaro.

"In several hospitals - including Rasoul Akram and Imam Khomeini - we organized sit-in protests. But state television, they said it was a strike for better wages."

Due to resistance by medical staff, the bodies of some protesters were speedily removed. "We think they were transferred to the Baqiatollah military hospital or a place unknown to the general public," says the doctor. Then, under the pretext of "organ donation", the evidence of bullet wounds were excised. Families were forced to go along with the deception in order to recover the remains for burial.

The Le Figaro article adds that a witness in Tehran, contacted by telephone told the newspaper that burials in the public cemetery at Behecht-e Zahra take place under surveillance, with the cause of death prohibited to be indicated on gravestones.

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