A devastating Earthquake
A magnitude 7.3 earthquake rocked the northern border region between Iran and Iraq on Sunday, 12 November 2017 at 9.20pm local time. Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported on 14 November that 530 people were killed and more than 8,000 injured.
The reports coming out of the region and public reaction showed a totally different picture. In reality the scope of casualties was much larger and the population was outraged at the lack of minimum assistance, plunder by the regime officials, and theft of the help provided from other parts of the country. People called the regime’s officials and the state media liars and some called for the regime’s overthrow.
The satellite network Iran National TV or Simaye Azadi, which reports activities of the Iranian opposition, played a major role in providing hourly reports from the quake-stricken area. INTV also broadcast a message by Maryam Rajavi, the President Elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, calling on Iranian people and resistance supporters to rush to the aid of the people. INTV also contributed €290,000 to help the people. The money was raise in an INTV fundraising programme a week earlier. Accordingly, the donors in Iran provided their aid directly to the quake-stricken people.
Iran lies on several tectonic plates and after an earthquake the Iranian people suffer extreme conditions. In fact, 152 aftershocks happened during the first 24 hours after the initial quake.
While government aid for rescuing those trapped under debris was negligible, the regime announced on the second day after the earthquake that the rescue operation had ended.
Instead of calling for more help, state television, in fear of social protests, announced, “The situation has returned to normal, and officials have advised people to go to their homes. ”
Meanwhile the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Basij militia, and other repressive forces sent columns of vehicles containing anti-insurgency units to the area , which sparked outrage and disgust among the people. According to eyewitnesses, they have played no role in helping the people, and their only mission was to prevent popular protests.
Contradictions in reports by the regime’s various media showed clearly how the regime is covering the facts. Farhad Hemmati the acting governor of Gilan-e-Gharb, told reporters that during the recent earthquake, a total of 6,450 residential units in the city were damaged. He added that the damage caused to public places, government buildings, and infrastructure was 40 percent in urban areas and 45 percent in rural areas. Hemati stated that in two villages 50% of residential and livestock housing were damaged, and three other villages were 100% destroyed.
Government sources reported the number of deaths to be 530. This figure does not match the extent of destructions at all. Reports provided by the people from the cities and villages of the area show that the number of deaths was much higher.
Pointing to the scale of the disaster, the state-run daily Jame’e Farda wrote, “The first line of the PR department’s instructions is to reduce the degree of crisis in giving out
information…We hide the result of the anger of nature in the same way as we distract public opinion from political failures.”
A report by Agence France Presse said, “In rural areas, 10 kilometers north of Sarpol-e-Zahab, where the AFP team was passing through, most of the aid distributed to people on 15 November, belonged to private individuals.”
Iranian MP Ahmad Safari, the representative of Kermanshah in the Iranian regime’s parliament, said in an interview on Wednesday, November 15: “The number of dead is much higher than official statistics; in my opinion, more than 1,000 people died in the earthquake.”
Days after the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Kermanshah province, and following various reports on inaction of the Iranian regime’s authorities to address it, government media reflected a small part of the catastrophic situation of people in the quake-stricken areas.
Safari added that “some villages have not received any help.” He also said: “Here is the resurrection, and the root of the problems is the lack of crisis management.”
“It’s possible that only 10% of the villages would have tents,” said the regime’s MP, who visited the quake-stricken area on Wednesday. “There are areas where 90% of the villages are destroyed; the situation is very dire.”
Ahmad Safari also criticized the regime’s coverage of the earthquake, saying: “[Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting provides coverage as if everything is alright and in place. The national media with their ineffective news coverage oppressed and betrayed Kermanshah.”
He also said the number of deaths is much higher than official statistics. “The authorities do not know, I myself went to a village where they said they buried 20 people on the first day,” Safari told state-run ILNA news agency after visiting a quake-stricken area. “These people are not included in the death toll. In my opinion, more than 1,000 people were killed; seventy people were killed in one alley in Sarpol Zahab; more than 250 people died in in the Mehr housing units.”
Qassem Jassemi, another MP, also said : “Drinking water, food and basic and general supplies have not yet reached the families.”
He added that relief efforts are very slow and people are faced with the problem of shelter and housing and have spent the last three nights outside in the cold.
According to the MP, electricity and water problems are also present in the quake-stricken areas.
After almost all natural disasters across the world, numerous appeals are made to the international community for help. However, this did not happen in Iran. The Iranian government gave the impression that it had everything under control and several officials declared publicly, via Twitter and other mediums, that everything was “back to normal” in the country. But this is not true even now.
The Iranian regime is putting people last again.
The country has been subject to numerous huge earthquakes in the past. Over 26,000 people were killed in an earthquake in 2003 in Bam in the south-east of the country. In 1990, more than 50,000 people died in Rudbar when a 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck the north-western part of the country.
These are just two examples of many devastating earthquakes that have hit the country. This raises the question: why is the Iranian government so incompetent when it comes to protecting its people against such disasters?
In Japan, another country prone to powerful earthquakes, policies have been put into place to protect its citizens. The people of Iran have no such protection.
The Iranian regime puts itself first, and the people of Iran are seen as a disruption. Authorities spend much of their time intimidating the people and the leadership of the country is rife with corruption.
The (IRGC) controls most of the country’s economy and a huge portion of the country’s budget is spent on its military and terrorist groups abroad. This leaves the people of the country destitute. The Iranian regime plunders the nation’s wealth to line its own pockets.
The careless construction across the country is not only a liability when it comes to earthquakes. There was a fire at a landmark building in Tehran recently that caused the building to collapse, killing many firefighters who went inside to rescue occupants. Many buildings in the country are known to not meet safety regulations, but nothing is done about it.
Meanwhile, Ali Beitollahi, the secretary of the Earthquake Research Department in the Ministry of Roads, Housing, and Urban Development said in an interview with state-run ILNA news agency on November 14, 2017: “If an earthquake as powerful as the one in Kermanshah Province happens in Tehran, 200,000 buildings will be totally destroyed and collapse. The collapse of this many buildings will definitely leave one million casualties, a real disaster indeed.”
Beitollahi maintained that “unfortunately there are a lot of new yet non-resistant buildings in Tehran that would fail to resist a magnitude 7 earthquake like the one that hit Kermanshah.”
The secretary of the National Earthquake Workgroup added that “the estimated one million casualties following a possible magnitude 7 earthquake in Tehran would only be due to collapse of buildings and the figure could even go higher if secondary incidents like explosions are taken into account… Considering secondary threats, the number of casualties after an earthquake in Tehran will definitely rise.”
Pointing out that there are currently 200,000 dilapidated buildings in Tehran, Beitollahi said” of Tehran’s more than one million registered houses, 200,000 are located in dilapidated areas that are subject to more destruction. “It’s predicted that districts 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18 would suffer the most damage, as they have more dilapidated areas,” he said.
“Another serious threat in Tehran would be gas explosions following an earthquake, so that Shahran region will definitely be seriously hit due to its accommodating numerous gas tanks”, he added.
Locals Reactions to Regimes Failures
Reuters reported on 14 November; Exhausted and exposed to freezing cold, survivors of a weekend earthquake in western Iran begged authorities for food and shelter on Tuesday, saying aid was slow to reach them.
Iran has so far declined offers of foreign assistance to deal with the aftermath of the tremor, which officials said damaged 30,000 homes and completely destroyed two villages.
“We are hungry. We are cold. We are homeless. We are alone in this world,” a weeping Maryam Ahang, who lost 10 members of her family in the hardest hit town of Sarpol-e Zahab, told Reuters by telephone.
“My home is now a pile of mud and broken tiles. I slept in the park last
night. It is cold and I am scared.”
State television aired footage of weeping villagers carrying away bodies wrapped in bloodied blankets and bed sheets and scrabbling with their bare hands through rubble in search of friends and relatives.
“It was my cousin’s birthday … All the relatives were there … like 50 people. But now almost all are dead,” Reza, who refused to give his full name, told Reuters from Sarpol-e Zahab town. He lost 34 members of his family on Sunday.
“We spent two nights in the cold. Where is the aid?”
“It is cold. My children are freezing. We have water and food but no tent. The quake did not kill us but the cold weather will kill us,” a woman in her 30s said.
The mayor of the city of Ezgeleh said 80 percent of its buildings had collapsed. Survivors desperately needed tents with elderly people and babies as young as a one-year-old sleeping in the cold for two straight nights.
“People are hungry and thirsty,” a local man told ISNA news agency. “There is no electricity. Last night I cried when I saw children with no food or shelter.”
Earthquake is an excuse for further looting by the IRGC
According to government media , on November 30, Rouhani’s government provided 565.4 billion tomans (€118 million) to help earthquake victims and from this amount 53 percent was paid to the IRGC
The remaining 47 percent was divided among the treasury departments of Kermanshah and Ilam provinces, the army, the Ministry of Health, the Red Crescent Society, the federal Emergency Department, and the Emergency Department of Tehran and other Government organs.
The same news agencies announced that Rouhani’s government paid 1.04 trillion tomans (€ 217 million) to Housing Foundation of the Islamic Revolution, which is under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
In a memorandum of understanding, the text of which was published by the IRGC’s affiliated sites, the contract for reconstruction of the
earthquake-stricken areas was given to the IRGC’s Khatam-al Anbiya Construction
Headquarters. As a result of the earthquake, Rouhani’s government has provided 1.34 trillion tomans, (€330 million) to the Revolutionary Guards. It must be noted that the IRGC in its entirety is on the US sanctions list , as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. It is also sanctioned by the EU for its role in suppression of the Iranian people.
Iranian Resistance Position
In her message to the Iranian people in the wake of this disaster, Iranian Resistance leader Maryam Rajavi rightly said :
In these difficult moments when all the people of Iran are anxious and concerned about the lives of those stuck under the rubble, what adds to the public’s distress is the clerical regime’s criminal record in such natural disasters of dragging its feet and dodging its responsibility in saving the lives of people.
Furthermore in a memorial ceremony on November 21, 2017 held by the Iranian resistance members in Tirana, Albania, Mrs. Rajavi referred to the inhuman nature of the Iranian regime and to the spirit of empathy and unity against it, adding:
The earthquake in Kermanshah province revealed two very important facts: the intensity of corruption, looting and crisis of the ruling regime, and the spirit of empathy and unity against the regime.
Everyone saw that the first thing the regime did, was to send the head of the army and heads of IRGC and Basij to the area, and anti-riot units were deployed there. Because they themselves are certain that if they do not control the situation with all their power, then this earthquake zone will be the volcano of the uprisings.
It is obvious that the earthquake, floods and other natural disasters are not something that only happen in Iran; in some countries, they are faced with much larger disasters like tsunamis. But unlike Iran, in those countries, all the forces of the state are mobilized to save the victims, not to think about suppressing the people in this situation.
The earthquake is a disaster and life after the earthquake for the survivors is a much bigger disaster.
Yes, the work of the regime is the same. The whole system is designed to suppress, and not for help.
What I said is a glimpse of the tragedy of an earthquake known as the Velayat-e Faqih (absolute rule of clergy) that has occurred in Iran. But these days, another fact has shown itself, and that is the solidarity shown with the people of Kermanshah.
Even foreign journalists who visited the area reported the fact that much of the assistance was carried out privately by the people themselves. This spirit of solidarity and selflessness is truly admirable. We all saw that mothers, fathers and even children did not hesitate to help, despite the difficulties they were faced with themselves.
These sacrifices and what has happened in these few days clearly explains social readiness and the rise of the spirit of resistance and the struggle against the regime.