In Iran, doctors help protesters

Doctors from the Shariati hospital in Mashhad (Iran) gather in support of the demonstrators on December 4, 2022. On the placards:

From the first days of the wave of protest in Iran, triggered by the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini on September 16, while in police custody for an “ill-worn” veil, a large number of demonstrators injured in the eyes went to the hospital where Fariba (a pseudonym intended to protect the person concerned) works as a doctor. At the end of September, together with his colleagues and the head of the department specializing in eye diseases and surgery, it was decided to set up a system to protect the injured from possible arrest by the secret services.

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“Our hospital is private and most of the injured protesters who came to us had just fled a university or public hospital where the agents working for the services are omnipresent, explains this 40-year-old Iranian. We decided not to mention words like “bullets”, “splinters” in the report of these patients. Instead, we put “blunt trauma” and “accidents at work”. »

Fariba and his colleagues also decided to treat these injured free of charge. They have so far taken care of around 100 people. “This number shows that in the crackdown affecting protesters in Iran, it is very common to target them with plastic bullets as well as rubber bullets. Whoever shoots knows exactly what he is doing”, explains Fariba. This wave of repression has already killed at least 503 civilians, according to human rights organizations. The number of injured remains impossible to assess.

Lifeless body of a doctor

Outside hospitals, many doctors are coming to the aid, on an individual basis, of patients affected by the demonstrations. Working from his office in a poor neighborhood in southern Tehran, Hossein (also a pseudonym) frequently posts on his Instagram page, followed by his patients, that he may visit the homes of anyone who has been injured in a demonstration.

With the help of his relatives, this 38-year-old general practitioner has set up a kitty in order to be able to provide these injured people with the treatment they need. On Instagram, the doctor also teaches, in clear terms, how to dress minor wounds, fix broken limbs and perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

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On the days when a demonstration takes place, Hossein goes down with one or two colleagues in the street, taking with him a few syringes, saline solution and sterile compresses. “The first few weeks he says, we dealt with people who had breathed in tear gas or who had been beaten with truncheons, most of them in the head. But quickly, the demonstrators had lead shot more often [cartouches pour la chasse] in the neck, in the head and in the abdomen, shot very closely. In these cases, we don’t have time to deal with it. They are very quickly arrested. »

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