Iranwire – Medical staff in the northern Iranian province of Alborz who refused flowers and sweets distributed by security forces last week are now under pressure from the authorities, IranWire has learnt.
The incident occurred as Iran was marking Nurse’s Day on November 30 amid a wave of nationwide protests calling for more freedoms and women’s rights that has rocked Iran for 11 weeks.
That day, the semiofficial Tasnim news agency published a report about the visit of Seyed Youssef Molaei, a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), to hospitals and other health centers in the province.
The report included pictures of Molaei and police officers giving red roses to doctors and nurses, as well as photos of medical staff holding balloons and baskets containing presents.
One personnel at Karaj Rastravesh Clinic, which is affiliated to Alborz University of Medical Sciences, told IranWire that members of the paramilitary Basij force also visited her clinic and, “without any coordination with the staff, began giving gifts, flowers, and sweets to our colleagues”.
“They took pictures of each and every one of the nurses, but my colleagues, who were mostly women, returned the flowers and the gifts and protested that they had been photographed and filmed without permission”.
According to this source, this unexpected reaction triggered a verbal conflict between the head of the clinic and Basij members: “Our colleagues are mostly women. The director of the clinic is also a woman. She supported her colleagues’ protest and stood behind the staff. Now the security department of the clinic is putting pressure on her”.
The security forces have interrogated some personnel at Karaj Rastravesh Clinic, accusing them of “colluding with riots and undermining the reputation of the Basij in front of the people”, the source said.
“They take our colleagues and ask them, ‘who do you get orders from,’ ‘how did you coordinate,’ and they don’t acknowledge that it was a spontaneous incident. We just didn’t want pictures of us to be published, and they should have asked permission to take these pictures. They may even fire the clinic manager”.
The source said that medics at the clinic “worked hard during the coronavirus pandemic”, testing 400 people for COVID-19 every day. “If they intend to appease staff they should pay wage arrears to nurses, paramedics and doctors.”
The security forces’ pressure on the medical staff comes at a time when a group of doctors, nurses and other medics announced in a statement that they will go on strike on December 5-7.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the September death of a 22-year-old woman in the custody of morality police. The protest movement has grown to become one of the biggest threats to the clerical regime since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Rights activists say more than 440 people have been killed in the crackdown by security services, including dozens of children, and at least 18,000 others have been detained.