Enraged people in a village in southwest Iran stormed the Friday Prayer Imam’s office, set it on fire, and attacked the Governor’s building.
At least 300 people, including children, are believed to have been infected with HIV in the province by a medical assistant using a contaminated syringe, furious people say.
Based on the latest reports, protesters burned the health network facilities on Saturday, October 5. Local health clinics are run by the country’s health ministry.
People in the village of Chenar Mahmoud in the town of Lordegan, Chahar Mahal & Bakhtiari, maintain that their loved ones contracted HIV from contaminated needles used by the village’s health organization to test for diabetes two months ago.
The outbreak has also affected residents of the neighboring villages.
However, the local health authorities dismiss the allegation, pointing out that cases of HIV had been detected in the village weeks before the diabetes tests.
Footages circulated on social media show protesters chanting anti-Islamic Republic slogans.
Referring to Tehran’s support for the Lebanese Hezbollah and Palestinian HAMAS, infuriated people chanted, “No to Gaza, No to Lebanon, I Sacrifice my Life for Iran.”
A video published on Twitter shows people in Isfahan protesting in support of the victims and their demands. They are also chanting the same slogan against Iran supporting militant groups in the region.
Meanwhile, the state-run Mehr news agency (MNA) reported that dozens of the villagers in Chenar Mahmoud assembled on Saturday outside the Governor’s office in Lordegan, demanding the judiciary to investigate the case.
“A limited number of ‘opportunists’ attempted to create disruption and sedition outside the Governor’s building, but failed,” MNA reported.
The protests initiated last Wednesday have gained momentum, and the security forces used tear gas to disperse angry people.
“The people of Chenar Mahmoud are scared,” one villager told Iran Human Rights Monitor (IHRM), adding, “Many refrain from taking blood tests out of fear of finding out they have been infected. Every family of two or three has become inflicted with the virus. Anyone who has taken the test has turned out to be positive. And no one asks this regime, why do you need to test a nine-year-old kid for cholesterol and blood sugar and infect them with AIDS.”
Protesters set fire to the office of Friday Prayer Imam.
This video shows protesters fleeing as security forces attack to disperse the crowd.
In the meantime, a member of parliament’s Health Commission, Behrouz Bonyadi, said on Saturday that the commission is sending a delegation along with several other lawmakers to Lordegan to investigate the case.
Furthermore, in a letter to the Minister of Justice, the Islamic Republic Minister of Health has insisted that HIV was detected in the village “a long time ago,” but kept secret to respect the villagers’ honor.
“The source of HIV outbreak was contaminated syringes used by drug addicts, as well as people who have ‘unacceptable relations,’ the Minister, Saeed Namaki asserted, adding, “We are going to treat people with HIV for free.”
But this assertion by the minister is bound to further anger the affected people and their relatives.