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Jafar Panahi Among Activists Urging UN to Take Action on Iran’s Covid Crisis

Filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mohammad Nourizad also signed a letter asking the UN to require Iran to import vaccines.

3 FACES, (aka THREE FACES, aka SE ROKH), Jafar Panahi, 2018. © Kino Lorber Films / courtesy Everett Collection

Jafar Panahi in “3 Faces”

©Kino International / Everett Collection

Ten activists have signed a letter addressed to the United Nations demanding that the organization take measures to help Iran’s ongoing Covid-19 crisis, including requiring Iran to import the vaccine. Among the signatories are filmmakers Jafar Panahi (“3 Faces,” “This Is Not a Film”) and Mohammad Rasoulof (“There Is No Evil”), as well as documentarian Mohammad Nourizad.

The letter asserts that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s ban on the vaccine, as well as governmental promotion of large religious gatherings where safety protocols are not employed, are causing continued infections and deaths. Khamenei banned the import of vaccines from the U.S. and the UK back in January on the basis of conspiracy theories, and activists are blaming the leader for what is a surging fifth wave of the pandemic in Iran. August 29 saw more than 31,000 new cases. The world has overall seen 4.51 million deaths and 217 million cases total.

Read the letter in full below:


Her Excellency Michelle Bachelet, The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Mr. Peter Maurer, The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross

Dr. Tedros Adhanom, The Director-General of the World Health

Dr. Christos Christou, The International President of MSF

Dear Mrs. Bachelet, Mr. Maurer, Mr.Adhanom, Mr.Christou,


We would like to bring to your attention the humanitarian crisis in Iran due to the vaccination ban and government incompetence and corruption.

The number of new coronavirus cases has increased dramatically in recent weeks, and the number of deaths announced by the government is over 700 per day.

Over the past 10 days, religious rituals have been held throughout the country with little to no regard for health protocols, and it is foreseeable that the number of new cases and deaths will unfortunately continue to rise in the coming weeks.

Since the first days of the coronavirus, all the plans of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic and other government officials have gradually led to the current brutal situation. Unfortunately, the ban on importing vaccines from the United States and the United Kingdom announced by the Supreme Leader on December 10, 2019, has increased the prevalence and mortality of coronavirus by politicizing disease control instead of following the global policy of fighting coronavirus through vaccination like other countries.

The necessary facilities and skills to produce vaccines are not available in the country, even though officials keep claiming so.

Together with the ban on vaccination, this has left the Iranian population defenseless against this deadly disease.

Numerous Iranian officials have contributed to the spread of Covid_19 and the death of people with their irresponsible, false and misleading statements and claims. For example, when Mr. Hemmati, the former governor of the Central Bank of Iran, claimed that sanctions were the reason for denying the importation of vaccines, Covax officially announced that there were no legal restrictions on the supply of vaccines to Iran.

As signatories of this letter, we announce that the numbers of deaths from Covid-19 claimed by the government are not true. This has also been confirmed by Mr. Zali, the head of the Covid-19 committee in Tehran. These false statistics are published with the aim of to deceive international organizations and public opinion and will unfortunately lead to a national catastrophe in Iran.

We also announce that despite the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens, not only is the required vaccination not being carried out and no protocols are being held to minimize the spread of the virus
but we also see that large religious rituals are being conducted with government support.

We believe that the international organizations and institutions must act as soon as possible and do what is necessary to control the outbreak of the virus and take serious measures to vaccinate all Iranians, otherwise the people will be exposed to a great danger, Be exposed to a terrific humanitarian crisis.

Yours faithfully,

Shahnaz Akmali, justice seeker mother, Mother of Mostafa Karimbeigi who was shot and killed in the 88 protests.

Jafar Azimzadeh, labor activist and the director of the Free Union of Iranian labors

Esmaeel Bakhshi, labor activist, member of the Neyshekar Labor Committee

Mohammad Habibi, teacher activist, member of Iranian Teachers Union

Narges Mohammadi, spokeswoman of the Defenders of Human Rights Center

Akram Neghabi, justice seeker mother, Mother of Saeed Zeinali who was arrested by the security force and then disappeared.

Mohammad Nourizad, filmmaker and documentary filmmaker

Jafar Panahi, director and filmmaker

Mohammad Rasoulof, director and filmmaker

Mohammad seyfzadeh,lower, vice president of human rights center

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