Surgeon 'treated wounded protesters at home to avoid Iranian security forces'

London tribunal to hear from medic who says he feared his patients would be arrested in early morning round-ups after 2019 fuel protests

People protest against increased gas price, on a highway in Tehran, Iran November 16, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

A surgeon treated injured demonstrators at his own home to save them from being swept up by security forces after the 2019 fuel protests in Iran, he is expected to tell a special tribunal this week.

The surgeon – who has not been named and will wear a mask to hide his identity – is set to tell a hearing in central London that he was fearful patients would be taken away during 1am swoops by officials at his hospital. He secretly treated patients at home for two months after the protests, tribunal officials said.

Amnesty International said the Iranian authorities killed hundreds of people and arrested more than 7,000 in a campaign of mass repression after tens of thousands demonstrated against a sudden rise in the price of petrol. It concluded last year that the government committed widespread human rights offences including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture.

The surgeon is one of 45 live witnesses expected to give evidence at the Aban Tribunal. The hearing has been called by human rights organisations in an attempt to hold Iran’s leadership to account for killings, disappearances and torture in custody.

A panel will scrutinise the roles of 133 named suspects, including Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian supreme leader and President Ebrahim Raisi, and issue a final report next year which will assess whether they are guilty of international crimes.

The tribunal has no legal standing but its backers hope it will highlight the brutal nature of the repression and collect evidence that could eventually lead to prosecutions around the world.

The witnesses giving evidence for five days from Wednesday will include a woman whose son was killed by a bullet through his eye. She will give evidence of how the family were denied medical reports and were not permitted to reclaim his body for a week.

Another witness will detail how a cousin was found dead in a river several weeks after taking part in demonstrations, according to his statement.

The family received an anonymous telephone call saying he had been detained by authorities but officials later denied any knowledge. He was found with signs of torture on his body, the witness said.

Shadi Sadr, who heads rights group Justice for Iran, one of the organisations behind the project, said: “This tribunal represents the unheard voice of the whole country of Iran, where not a single person of any rank has been investigated to date.”

Updated: November 16th 2021, 9:41 AM