Iranian official admits that student protesters are being taken to psychiatric institutions in the Gulf states.
The United States, Israel, France and other Western nations have intervened militarily over the past month to protect demonstrators in Iran after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at them for seeking to bring him down from power.
The protests were sparked by the government’s move to impose fuel subsidies and limit access to the internet, in addition to closing the nation’s two main radio and television networks in the aftermath of the disputed June 12 election. Protesters then clashed with riot police.
Iranian security forces say they are trying to ensure that the thousands of protesters do not take to the streets again.
On Wednesday, Iran’s semiofficial IRIB news agency said in a story that some 300 of those demonstrators now in psychiatric hospitals in the Gulf states could not be released due to their inability to pay the costs.
“Some of them are still in psychiatric hospitals, but the government officials have made a deal with them,” IRIB quoted Sadegh Ghotbzadegi, director of the psychiatric ward at the University Hospital in Mashhad, as saying.
He said that some students who were not taken to psychiatric hospitals were still receiving treatment, although that was not certain.
“The government is trying to make it easy for them to get out of the hospitals,” he said.
But a spokesman for the Iranian government’s human rights commission, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i, said the government was not making deals with people.
“The law on mental health institutions does not differentiate between the mentally ill and the sane and it is wrong to assume that people who have spent a lot of time in the hospitals and who have suffered from mental illness were being sent there to recover,” he told reporters.
But in a statement on Wednesday night, Iranian media reported that those who had spent time in psychiatric institutions were still being treated.
“The psychological treatment is still on-going, but the number of detainees is decreasing, thanks to the efforts of the nation’s top officials,” said the statement by the official Tasnim news agency.