News Digest: Week of July 13

July 13

Health: Iran reported 259,652 infections, including 13,032 deaths from COVID-19. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the resurgence of COVID-19 "truly tragic" in a virtual meeting with lawmakers. Khamenei urged all citizens to "play their part in the best way to break the chain of transmission in the short term and save the country." 


July 14

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health recorded 262,173 cases and 13,211 deaths from coronavirus. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 12 provinces had been declared "red zones" due to high rates of infection. Previously, Lari had only categorized nine provinces as red. The updated list provinces included Khuzestan, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Khorasan Razavi, Zanjan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah, Golestan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Bushehr, and Mazandaran. 

Health: Anushirvan Mohseni Bandpay, the governor of Tehran Province, reimposed a week-long lockdown after a spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The new restrictions, made in coordination with the National Coronavirus Task Force, shutdown all universities, schools, seminaries, libraries, theaters, museums, ceremony halls, barbershops, beauty salons, mosques, cafeterias, coffee shops, zoos, amusement parks, indoor swimming pools, and fitness centers. Bandpay also declared a ban on social, cultural and religious gatherings.

Health: Mahmoud Abbasi, the Deputy Justice Minister for Human Rights and International Affairs, said that anyone who had knowingly spread COVID-19 should be hanged. "Someone who is fully aware of his infection and without wearing a mask sneezes and coughs…spreads the coronavirus to others and ultimately causes their death. This means deliberate murder and is subject to Qisas," Abbasi told a local news website. 

Society/Human Rights: Iran’s judiciary announced that the Supreme Court had upheld the death sentences for three young men who participated in protests over economic and political grievances in November 2019. The verdict was met with outrage in Iran. By midday on June 14, the hashtag #DontExecute in Persian was the most-tweeted hashtag within Iran. By the evening, the hashtag was trending globally, with nearly 4.5 million tweets.

Justice: Iran’s judiciary announced that Reza Asgari, a former defense ministry staffer convicted of spying for the Central Intelligence Agency, had been executed. “In the last years of his service, he joined the CIA, he sold information about our missiles ... to the CIA and took money from them,” Esmaili said. “He was identified, tried and sentenced to death.”


July 15

Health: Iran recorded 264,561 cases and 13,410 deaths from COVID-19.

Politics: Lawmakers withdrew a motion to impeach President Hassan Rouhani, according to Tasnim News Agency. The motion, supported by ten parliament members, had reportedly been dropped after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed support for the government.

Maritime: At least seven ships caught fire at a shipyard at Bushehr port, according to Tasnim news agency. The cause of the fire was under investigation. A series of mysterious explosions and fires had occurred at sensitive military, nuclear and industrial facilities since late June, including a fire at the Natanz nuclear facility on July 2. 

Health: Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced that Iran would begin domestically producing Remdesivir, an antiviral agent proven to treat COVID-19, by next week. Namaki said that Iran had previously relied on humanitarian imports to receive the drug.


July 16

Health: Iran’s Ministry of Health reported 267,061 cases and 13,608 deaths from COVID-1. Health Ministry spokesman Sima Sadat Lari announced that 2,073,000 coronavirus tests had been carried out in the country.

Society: Dozens of protestors gathered in the city of Behbahan in Khuzestan province to protest the country’s poor economic conditions. “Fear not, fear not, we are in this together,” protesters chanted in a video posted to social media. Security forces reportedly fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. The following day, local police issued a statement that accused unspecified “enemies” of provoking discontent in Iran. “The police force has an inherent and legal duty to deal decisively with these desperate moves.”