How should Europe react to the authoritarian countries after the pandemic?

This is an opinion article by an external contributor. The views belong to the writer.
How should Europe react to the authoritarian countries after the pandemic?
The ministers of foreign affairs of France, Germany, the European Union, Iran, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as Chinese and Russian diplomats announcing the framework for a comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program (Lausanne, April 2, 2015)

Today the death toll of COVID 19 in Belgium passed 4000.

Belgium as an EU member has increased the number of tests to 5,500 per day, and it is planning to increase it to 10,000.

Similar measures are taken into account with other state members. Still, all suspicious cases are involved in statistics for a better assessment of the situation of the epidemic in Belgium. We can see all these actions such as the lockdown, temporary unemployment, increasing test capacity, etc. is not sufficient yet.

There is a lot more to do. But it is how we expect a democratic government to act.

On the other hand, we should have an eye on the starting point of this problem. The virus was found in a market in Wuhan in China and spread globally.

China with a complete lockdown of Wuhan claims to be capable to control the outbreak. Still there are a lot of allegations about the transparency of China’s reports about the outbreak. Donald Trump has cut down US funding to the World Health Organization due to its Chinese interests which impacted the largest economy in the world.

On the other hand, thanks to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) we can have a clearer sight about the outbreak of the coronavirus in an authoritarian country.

The official figures in Iran shows a death toll of 4,474. This number in comparison with the data from other countries is dubious. As we can see, Iran with a population 7 times larger than Belgium, without performing lockdown measures is reporting paradoxical numbers.

Iranian daily death toll is changing from 100 to 150, while in Belgium we have faced the peak of more than 400 deaths in a day.

The situation in Italy with the peak of 1,000 and in US with the peak of 2,000 deaths in a day raises big questions.

On the other hand, Iran with the 73,303 active cases and 45,983 recovered patients after China, Germany, and Spain is ranked fourth.

The Iranian regime claims the virus was detected in Iran on 19 February, 2020. However, according to documents from Iran’s emergency center, patients with symptoms of coronavirus were hospitalized already at the beginning of February and late January. Which proves Iran hid the aspects of the epidemic for at least three weeks and lost precious time to avoid the outbreak.

Another important issue is about the situation of prisoners and political prisoners in Iran. According to several reports from prisons in Iran, coronavirus has spread in prisons causing several riots. In Saquez (in west of Iran, Kurdestan province) about 80 prisoners escaped.

The regime arrested and returned a large number of them back. However, the political prisoner, Mostafa Salimi, was executed as soon as they took him back to his cell. Amnesty international requested Iranian officials and international organizations to save the lives of prisoners in Iran amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Since the beginning of this week Iran is the first country which has lifted all lockdown measures. Many workers and staff have to return to their jobs. This can endanger many lives and causes to the more spread of the virus either in Iran or in the region. Iran supports the militias in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and Syria.

With almost 80,000 total cases according to official figures and more than hundreds of thousands of cases according to estimations, clearly, the regime has chosen its fragile economic policies over the health of the people.

The Iranian regime, as the first state sponsor of terrorism, suffers the lack of legitimacy inside the country. The aggressive uprising in November 2019, the shooting down of the Ukrainian airliner and not returning the flight recorder, besides the lowest turnout of the Iran’s parliamentary elections left no ways for the Iranian regime to use the lives of Iranian as a shield to protect its sovereignty.

It seems the Iranian regime by hijacking the suffering of the coronavirus outbreak in Iran is trying to prevent another internal uprising and also put pressure on International community to lift sanctions which drained Iran resources to fund armed militias in the region.

Of course we are all trying to return to a normal condition, but returning to the normal does not mean to return before the pandemic. It means how we are going to start as a society again.

Some problems are global issues and if we neglect them we will see them just behind our doors.

Ali Bagheri

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