Iranian ambassador bashes racist propaganda during COVID-19 crisis

April 3, 2020 - 16:10

While the world witnesses the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, all countries should shoulder their responsibility and provide joint leadership, especially in the United Nations, the Iranian Ambassador to China, Mohammad Keshavarz Zadeh, has told China.org.cn.

He warned that the world should be vigilant against any xenophobic, racist or intolerant propaganda.

"It's absolutely wrong and inappropriate to label the novel coronavirus as the 'China Virus' or 'Wuhan Virus,'" said the ambassador, referring to the practice of tying the virus to China by U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier in March. 
The ambassador said this kind of propaganda is not a new type of ignorance and racism, but such language from the top leadership of a major power is unprecedented in the 21st century.

Trump's language has also drawn domestic criticism. "It's certainly not the way the leadership of the United States, the secretary of state, and the president of the United States, ought to be behaving in the best of times - but certainly not in a crisis." The Hill quoted former White House national security adviser Susan Rice as saying on Tuesday. 

In the short term, Keshavarz Zadeh called on all countries and the United Nations to make effective arrangements to lead global efforts in sharing data about the COVID-19, coordinating international research, providing and encouraging greater funding of the World Health Organization, and humanitarian assistance.

According to the diplomat, Iran, the hardest-hit country in Middle East, has entered a dire situation at a time when the government was already under extreme pressure by U.S. unilateral sanctions. This has hampered Iran's ability to purchase and access vital medical equipment and pharmaceuticals from the international market.

"Iran has been unable to purchase medical equipment and medicine even from European companies due to fears by European banks of being sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department if they traded with Tehran," the ambassador wrote.

Since Iran detected its first coronavirus case on Feb. 19, there has been an upsurge in confirmed cases. According to Iran's health authorities, by April 3 the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Iran reached 53,183 and the death toll hit 3,294.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has announced the extension of the social distancing plan for another week until April 8. Iran's healthcare system faces mounting pressure with the influx of patients, said the ambassador.

Earlier in February, Beijing sent to Tehran several humanitarian aid consignments including testing kits and medical supplies, along with a volunteer group of medical experts from the Red Cross Society of China to assist Iran's response to the outbreak. 

Following that, many Chinese people have also sent their undisputed assistance to Iran in fight against the epidemic, said the ambassador, expressing gratitude in a tweet. 

He said, "China had a unique and unprecedented public health response that reversed the escalating cases and the country is already beginning to see success from the government's measures."

The ambassador said it's good to see the number of new cases in China declining, which opens the door for hope in controlling the disease.

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