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Iranian Academics Call for Trial of US, European Officials over Sanctions

A group of Iranian university lecturers called for the prosecution of top US and European officials for committing crimes against humanity while the country battles the coronavirus pandemic despite Washington’s unilateral sanctions.

In a letter to the United Nations chief, the heads of the UN General Assembly, and the UN human rights council on Tuesday, the academics called for the trial of US President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, and their cabinet ministers among others.

The group blasted the US’s anti-Iran sanctions as a “blatant violation of the international law,” arguing that the restrictions deprived Iranians of medicines and protective equipment required for fighting the virus outbreak.

The Iranian university lecturers said the bans have posed serious risks to chronic patients in the country and have led to the death of many others. The letter also blamed some European countries for collaborating with the US and following in Washington’s footsteps in imposing illegal sanctions on Tehran.

On Tuesday, the United Nations also called for the lifting of sanctions on such countries such as Iran and Venezuela amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, said the continued imposition of economic sanctions “severely undermines the ordinary citizens’ fundamental right to sufficient and adequate food” as the two countries struggle to contain the flu-like pathogen.

“These countries are already under stress and cannot handle the additional burden of sanctions. As the world exhibits new bonds of solidarity in response to the pandemic, it is now a matter of humanitarian and practical urgency to lift unilateral economic sanctions immediately,” Elver added.

Iran has time and again blamed the US for hampering its efforts to import medicine and other medical supplies to confront Covid-19. Venezuela also says US sanctions have caused fuel shortages and hindered the delivery of food amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting approximately all countries and territories around the world. The virus was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has so far killed more than 42,000 people and infected approximately 860,000 others globally.

As for Iran, the Iranian health ministry announced on Tuesday that 3,111 new cases of infection to COVID-19 virus have been identified in the country, adding that 2,898 patients have died so far.

“According to definite diagnostic standards, a sum of 3,111 new cases of infection to COVID-19 virus have been identified in Iran during the past 24 hours, increasing the number of infections to 44, 606,” Jahanpour said.

He added that fortunately, 14,656 patients infected with COVID-19 virus have also recovered and been discharged from hospital.

Jahanpour said that 141 coronavirus patients have passed away during the past 24 hours, noting that the death toll has increased to 2,898 so far.

The Iranian foreign ministry declared that despite Washington’s claims of cooperation to transfer drugs to Iran via the new Swiss-launched payment mechanism, the US is troubling the process amid the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Although US claims that medicines and medical equipment are not under sanctions, they have practically blocked the transfer of Iran’s financial resources in other countries into the Swiss Humanitarian Trade Arrangement (SHTA), Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi said.

As the death toll from the virus surges, Iran intensifies its preventive safety measures. Closures of schools and universities have been extended until early April.

The government also imposed travel restrictions, specially on Iran’s North, which is among the red zones. The country has also adopted strict digital health control procedures at airports to spot possible infections.

Health Minister Saeed Namaki announced earlier March that a new national mobilization plan would be implemented across the country to fight against the coronavirus epidemic and more effectively treat patients.

Namaki said that the plan will include all the 17,000 health centers and the 9,000 medical and clinical centers in all cities, suburban areas and villages.

He added that the plan will include home quarantine, noting that infected people will receive the necessary medicines and advice, but they are asked to stay at home.

Namaki said that people with a more serious condition will stay at the hospitals, adding that the public places will be disinfected, the entries of infected towns and cities will be controlled to diagnose and quarantine the infected cases.

He added that the necessary equipment and facilities have been provided, expressing hope that the epidemic would be curbed.

According to the latest statistics of Health Ministry, the number of medical laboratories to test coronavirus infection has reached 90 across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says Iran’s response to the virus has so far been up to the mark. Still, it says the US sanctions are a big challenge, and Washington would be complicit in the rising death toll in Iran if it would not remove its sanctions.

The World Health Organization has considered priorities in combating coronavirus and Islamic Republic of Iran obeys and follows up priorities as defined by WHO.

The WHO is dispatching separate delegations to all countries.

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