To treat injured protesters during the mobilizations in Iran, medical students have created a collective that intervenes during the demonstrations. Threatened with death, its founder had to flee the country.

A photo obtained by AFP outside Iran shows Iranian protesters in the streets of the capital Tehran on September 21, 2022. (AFP)

“A week after the protests started, I saw that there were many injuries, says medical student Keyvan, I decided with other friends to create a team to treat the injured protesters.”

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In Iran, four months after the death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish girl killed for having worn the veil incorrectly, the demonstrations continue. A mobilization violently repressed by the Revolutionary Guards. Protesters risk jail if they go to the hospital. To treat the wounded, a collective of medical students formed in Iranian Kurdistan: the Red Sun. The founder of the collective fled to Iraq after being arrested and tortured by the regime.

Care provided to hundreds of protesters

“One of our members was collecting money, says Keyvan, another was collecting medicine in the villages avoiding checkpoints. And the others were on the ground in connection with the activists, we exchanged with them to find out where would the demonstrations be”. “We went there to be ready to treat people.”

The collective treated the demonstrators in the street. “The team was divided in two, specifies Keyvan, One on the ground directly for the first aid gestures, the other moved to secure places where the wounded were brought.” When he shows his phone, dozens of photos of injured protesters with bruises on their arms, backs lacerated by bullets, appear.

“In total, I saw 140 patients lose an eye. Women, in general, are targeted on the intimate areas, near the vagina. The police purposely shoot there.”

Arrest and torture

Then one day, Keyvan gets arrested by the Iranian police. “I stayed 21 days in prison. As you can see, they cut off my ring finger with a cutter, he shows. The guards beat me. They poured cold water on me and gave me electric shocks. In fact so many things that I still have a lot of trouble talking about it,” he says. When he is released, Keyvan decides to leave Iran.

“When I got out of prison, I started doing this first aid job again, but secretly. One of my colleagues was arrested in turn. There, I was afraid that they would catch up with me and that they kill me. So I fled.”

Today in Keyvan’s medical team, two teammates are dead, seven are in prison, only three are still active.