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Don't kill me for trying to save a life

Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hasanlou is a 54-year-old radiologist in Iran. He is also a husband to his beloved wife, Farzaneh, and is a father to a ten-year-old daughter and a college aged son. Upon graduating from medical school, Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou took the Hippocratic Oath, just like we did. From what his colleagues have shared, Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou took this Oath to heart. He is known for serving the underserved, building schools in under-resourced areas, seeing poor patients free of charge, and helping charities throughout his career.

Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou and his wife attended the “40th day” memorial ceremony for Hadis Najafi, a 23-year-old woman who was shot in the face, neck and chest during the protests of the Islamic Regime in Iran. Hadis’s murder was widely reported in international media, and like other women before her, Hadis became a symbol of female empowerment against the Islamic government. Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou and his wife, like thousands of other Iranians, drove to the 40th day gathering to honor Hadis and support her family. There was traffic, so they decided to park and continue by foot with the crowd. On their way, they passed an Islamic militia member being beaten, and later a Mullah, who had also been beaten by the crowd. Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou stopped by the Mullah, tended to him, checked his pulse, and called for an ambulance before peacefully proceeding towards Hadis’s grave. The militiaman later died, while the Mullah survived.

At 2AM the following day, militia forces broke down Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou’s door and pulled him and his wife out of bed. They accused him of murdering the militiaman. They brutally beat him in front of his ten-year-old daughter, breaking a rib. Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou and his wife were then imprisoned and tortured to confess to the crime of killing the militiaman. He was tortured so severely that four more of his ribs were broken, resulting in a hemothorax; meanwhile, separately, his wife was horribly tortured as well. She was told that they knew where her son lives, and that they will capture him, torture him in the same way, and perhaps kill him, unless she confesses that her husband was involved in the killing. Under this duress, she said her husband kicked the militiaman once. Despite later imploring that this was a forced “confession” given under torture, the Islamic Government used it as direct evidence that he killed this militiaman.

They held Dr. Ghare-Hasanlou’s trial, along with four other protesters, at an abnormally rapid pace. They were denied access to a lawyer. He was taken to a hospital for life saving surgery due to the hemothorax, and despite his hospitalization and multiple surgeries, the trial continued. When he attempted to open his hospital gown to show the judge the signs of torture, the judge only laughed and accused him of faking the injuries. Once he woke up from the anesthesia of the third surgery, he was informed that he had been sentenced to death for "waging war against god”. His wife was sentenced to 25 years in prison in solitary confinement.

We do not know how his wife will survive, or when they will execute him. He is only one among thousands and thousands of imprisoned protestors at risk of execution. Executions in Iran often take place by hanging from a crane, a particularly slow and painful way to die. Many Iranians know the fear of executions in their bones. Almost everyone has a family member or friend who was tortured, imprisoned or executed.

Iranians hold the memorial service for their lost loved ones on the 40th day after their passing. They say you get used to things after 40 days. They say that the burning sense of losing a loved one will cool down after that day, so that those remaining can live. But nothing is cooling down in Iran, it’s burning and burning. Now, every day is the 40th day of someone’s murder. The fire doesn’t cool off, it’s raging, with every day and with every death.

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