Connect with us

Europe

How Iran’s Security Forces Use Ambulances to Suppress Protests

News Agencies

Published

on

In early October, about a month into Iran’s anti-government protests, a Tehran resident reported seeing at least three protesters being shoved into an ambulance during a student-led demonstration. But the resident said the protesters did not appear to be injured.

Around the same time, Niki, a university student in Tehran, said she saw security forces using ambulances to detain protesters at an intersection.

“They grabbed people,” she said. “They put them in the ambulance, turned off the lights. There were lots of people in the back.” The ambulance then drove down the street, she said. “I didn’t see where they dropped off the people, but I saw that there were normal people inside, like young girls.”

Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times

Protests calling for widespread social and political change that erupted in September have led to a brutal crackdown by Iran’s security forces, with more than 14,000 people arrested, according to the United Nations. At least 326 people have been killed, according to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based NGO. The demonstrations began following the death of Mahsa Amini, known by her first Kurdish surname Jina, in the custody of Iran’s morality police and have been primarily led by women.

Part of that crackdown, according to witnesses and dozens of videos and images reviewed by The New York Times, has involved the use of ambulances by the security forces to infiltrate protests and detain protesters. Nearly all of the witnesses interviewed by the Times spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the government.

Such use of ambulances, which experts say violates international norms of medical impartiality, shows the lengths to which the government has gone to try to quell the nationwide demonstrations.

“People are going to be afraid to seek health care, meaning more people will die,” said Rohini Haar, an assistant adjunct professor at the School of Public Health at University of California, Berkeley. “Health care has credibility because of the idea of impartiality. It’s the basic idea of ‘do no harm,’ and misusing ambulances clearly violates that.”

Security Forces Using Ambulances

In an interview over an encrypted messaging app, a 37-year-old restaurant worker described seeing ambulances entering university campuses during protests almost every day, and uniformed security forces emerging from them. He works near three major universities in Tehran where he sees daily protests. He also attended other protests and said he saw security forces using ambulances there, too.

Witnesses who attended protests in Tehran spoke about seeing plainclothes police officers, known as Basij, forcing students into the back of an ambulance at a demonstration at Sharif University on Oct. 2.

One of the witnesses, in an interview over an encrypted messaging app, reported seeing Basij beating one of the students, who was on the ground and covered in bruises, with a baton before shoving him into an ambulance along with another protester and driving away.

In the early days of the protests, demonstrators were on the streets in Rasht, the capital city of Gilan province in northern Iran.

One video, whose location was mentioned by a Twitter user and independently verified by the Times, which seems to have been filmed from inside a car, shows an ambulance on fire, apparently after being targeted by protesters. Someone in the car shouts, “They’re rescuing the girls! Come out!” as the car nears the ambulance.

The video shows a man wearing what resembles the uniform of Iran’s national police force leaving the ambulance and running away from the vehicle. He is briefly chased by a group of people before escaping.

The Times showed the video to Afshon Ostovar, an associate professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, who focuses on Iranian national security.

“That definitely looks like a NAJA officer,” Ostovar said in an interview, using the acronym for Iran’s national police force. “He’s not a paramedic. The uniform and firearm are dead giveaways.” The firearm that Ostovar refers to could be in the holster clipped to the man’s back as he runs away from the ambulance in the video.

Although the video doesn’t show who torched the ambulance, another video from a different angle shows the same ambulance being shoved and jostled by a crowd of people.

Ambulances at Police Stations

The Times analyzed and geolocated videos and photos showing ambulances entering or exiting police stations, or positioned just outside them, in at least six locations across the country (in one case the location was first mentioned by a Twitter user).

In two of the locations there are hospitals nearby, according to Google Maps, but the video from one of these locations shows the ambulance clearly going into the police station.

Although the videos and photos don’t show who is being transported, a former emergency room physician said there’s no legitimate medical reason for ambulances to be at police stations.

“I can say with nearly 100% accuracy that this never happens,” said Dr. Amir Alishahi Tabriz, who previously worked in the Loghman-e Hakim and Torfeh hospitals in Tehran in 2013. Now based in the United States, he works with doctors in Iran to help their patients get care after being injured in protests.

“People don’t feel safe to go to urgent care or hospitals. They know that forces are waiting for them to capture them,” he said. “When patients need help, we send them to health centers in the middle of the night.”

Outrage Among Iran’s Medical Workers

The use of ambulances to detain people has outraged Iran’s medical community. A video posted on Twitter on Oct. 4 and verified by the Times shows medical workers demonstrating outside Razi University Hospital in Rasht, holding signs that read, “Basij are not students,” and “Ambulances should be used for transporting patients.”

Another video posted on Twitter on Oct. 21, deliberately blurred to protect the identity of the subjects, shows a demonstration that appears to be at the Mashhad Medical Society building. At the demonstration, a speaker reads from a statement condemning the use of ambulances and medical symbols by security forces: “We would like it to stop in order to gain social trust.”

The Times verified that the room seen in the blurry footage matches archival footage from the Mashhad Medical Society building’s amphitheater.

Haar, with UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said that work of the medical community during protests and civil disturbances is protected under international human rights law.

“The principles of impartiality and independence, of caring for the wounded and not misusing the medical emblem for political gain, are universally accepted foundations on which the entire medical system relies,” she said. “Medical workers have the obligation to treat the wounded and sick. And the government has the obligation to help us do that.”

Aside from protests in Rasht and Mashhad, other members of the medical community have voiced their concerns about the misuse of ambulances. On Oct. 22, the Medical Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the licensing and regulatory body for health care professionals, raised concerns about the use of ambulances for nonmedical transport.

For many in Iran, the use of ambulances to suppress protests adds to their distrust in the country’s medical system. There have been several reports about Iranians who have been injured at protests being detained after receiving medical care in hospitals.

In an interview, one Tehran protester said that many people tend to their injuries at home instead of going to the hospital due to a climate of fear.

“We felt most insecure when we saw police. But we have a new level of fear unlocked. Now we feel the worst pains when we see ambulances,” said one Tehran protester. “And every time we’re stuck in traffic, now the dilemma is, what if there’s a real patient in there? Or what if they’re going to kill us?”

© 2022 The New York Times Company

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Breaking News

Advertisement

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment3 hours ago

So emotional: ‘The Voice’ Season 22’s top eight compete in Whitney-themed semifinals

‘The Voice’ Season 22 top eight contestants Omar Jose Cardona, Bodie, Bryce Leatherwood, Justin Aaron, Parijita Bastola, Kim Cruise, Brayden...

Hollywood Actress Ellie kemper Spotted in Anjali phougat Jewels by designer dream collection Hollywood Actress Ellie kemper Spotted in Anjali phougat Jewels by designer dream collection
Entertainment4 hours ago

Hollywood Actress Ellie kemper Spotted in Anjali phougat Jewels by designer dream collection

Anjali Phougat is an Ohio-based fashion designer, film fashion wardrobe stylist, entrepreneur, and founder of a luxury fashion brand called Designer...

Entertainment10 hours ago

John Travolta pays tribute to Kirstie Alley: ‘I know we will see each other again’

John Travolta and Kirstie Alley promote the 1989 movie “Look Who’s Talking.” (Photo: TriStar Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection) The death of...

Entertainment12 hours ago

Kirstie Alley Dead: Star of ‘Cheers’ and ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ Dies at 71

CelebrityUS Magazine ‘General Hospital’ Star Jack Wagner’s Son Harrison’s Cause of Death Revealed Amid Scholarship Launch General Hospital star Jack Wagner’s son...

Entertainment12 hours ago

Kirstie Alley Dead: Star of Cheers Dies at 71 After Short Battle with Cancer

https://www.instagram.com/p/ClzqliopUks/?igshid=YWJhMjlhZTc%3D lley Verified • Liked by pradalover__ and others kirstiealley’s profile picture kirstiealley Verified To all our friends, far and...

Entertainment12 hours ago

Morgan Wallen Will Take 2023 ‘One Night at a Time’ on a Massive World Tour

morgan-wallen-tour.jpg 2022 iHeartRadio Music Festival – Night 1 – Show – Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images Morgan Wallen will be chasin’...

Entertainment13 hours ago

38 women accuse director James Toback in new lawsuit of prowling the streets of NYC to lure and sexually abuse, assault, or batter them

James Toback.Thomson Reuters James Toback “prowled” NYC to lure women using his status in the industry, a new lawsuit claims....

Entertainment14 hours ago

Box Office Bust: ‘Black Adam’ Faces Theatrical Losses

“Black Adam” has hardly been given a hero’s welcome in its box office run, generating just $387 million globally after...

Latest Sports

Sports51 mins ago

Here’s where the Bears stand in the 2023 NFL draft after Week 13

The Chicago Bears have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft after losing to the Packers in Week...

Sports1 hour ago

UCLA women’s soccer rallies to beat North Carolina, win national title on wild last-second goal

UCLA rallied from a late 2-0 hole to beat North Carolina in double overtime on Monday night in the women's...

Sports2 hours ago

Bruins-Golden Knights takeaways: Vegas ends Boston’s home win streak

The Bruins' record home win streak ended Monday night against their former coach, Bruce Cassidy, in an emotional game at...

Sports2 hours ago

Steph Curry addresses fake viral video of five straight full-court shots

Steph Curry didn't actually make five straight full-court shots, as a viral video portrays, but he wanted everyone to know...

Sports3 hours ago

Three things to know: Anthony Davis, Lakers playing up to Darvin Ham’s vision

In his last five games, Anthony Davis is averaging 35.6 points on 66.7% shooting with 13.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks...

Sports3 hours ago

World Cup 2022: Spain and Portugal look to book quarterfinal spots on Tuesday

Unless Morocco beats Spain, there will be six European teams in the quarterfinals.

Sports3 hours ago

Andrew Nembhard joins LeBron James with historic stats after torching Warriors

Indiana Pacers rookie Andrew Nembhard joined a very exclusive club after his historic night against the Warriors.

Sports4 hours ago

Uruguay players charged for confronting World Cup referee

DOHA, Qatar (AP) Four Uruguay players were charged with offensive behavior by FIFA on Monday for their angry pursuit of...

Technology Hot News

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter? Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?
Technology1 month ago

Is Elon Musk Really Going to Buy Twitter?

Elon Musk, the owner of the electric car company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX, and the richest man in the world,...

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours
Technology1 month ago

WhatsApp services were affected across Pakistan, restored after 2 hours

WhatsApp services were affected in various countries of the world, including Pakistan, and India due to this users were facing...

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies
Technology2 months ago

Bitcoin vs Litecoin: A guide to understanding cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies currently occupy an odd place in society. They are no longer the super niche bizarre currency beloved by tech...

Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads Personal data of people is selling on Google Play and Google Ads
Editor Picks3 months ago

Personal data of people are sold on Google Play and Google Ads

It’s been two to three years since Google has been unknowingly hosting multiple apps from malicious actors who sell personal...

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours
Technology5 months ago

Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours

An end-to-end encrypted email service Protonmail is down a second time in the past 24 hours, netizens reported on social...

What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop What's better for the student: a tablet or a laptop
Technology7 months ago

What’s better for the student: a tablet or a laptop

Some analysts argue that computers have outlived their usefulness. There is some truth in this: PC and laptop sales are...

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary
Technology7 months ago

Tesla founder Elon Musk holds the Twitter deal temporary

USA: Elon Musk, the founder of companies like Tesla and SpaceX, can actually buy anything in the world. Last month,...

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat? How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?
Technology7 months ago

How Zafar Supari is utilizing his ability on Snapchat?

Pakistan: Zafar Supari a public figure, businessman, and social media sensation has crossed one hundred thirty-three thousand 133k subscribers on...