Regular readers of IranWire will by now be well-versed in the calamitous approach of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the threat posed by coronavirus, and of the tragedy that has befallen the Iranian people as a consequence.

From the very outset of the pandemic in January 2020, the regime’s official response to coronavirus was clouded by political self-interest, misguided economic concerns, ideology and obsessive securitization. From lying about the existence of Covid-19 in Iran to obfuscating the official figures on cases and deaths, to neglecting the needs of medical workers and gaslighting the public, it is hard to imagine how the Islamic Republic could have reacted to the situation in a less responsible way.

Not only this, but a series of critical decisions – such decisions as keeping the borders open with China, forcing people out into the streets to mark the Anniversary of the Revolution, and pressing ahead with the parliamentary elections, to name a few – put the Iranian people at even graver risk at a time when caution and pragmatism, above all, was what was required.

All of this is known. But time has a tendency to smooth over these isolated incidents, and in Iran in particular, an amnesiac regime counts on the same level of forgetfulness on the part of its people. It is in this spirit that the legendary cartoonist Mana Neyestani has produced The Crash, Covid-19 and Other Iranian Stories: a unflinching new graphic novel that relays, once again and in blow-by-blow fashion, the events that took place in Iran in the early weeks of the pandemic.

Told through the eyes of four ordinary Iranian citizens, each of whom is grappling with other problems thrust upon them long before SARS-CoV-2 came into the world, the story recounts in excruciating detail the incidents that led us to this terrible point in time. The failures in top-down policymaking. The censorship and confusion. The disregard of advice issued by world leaders and public health experts. The isolationism. The lies.

Produced in partnership with IranWire and published today in English and Persian, Neyestani’s searing new work stands as a testament to the year that was, and also as a stark reminder that it did not have to be this way. The artist dedicates this book to all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Iran, and to the countless others struck down by the wider affliction that has now plagued the country for more than 40 years.

You can read The Crash, Covid-19 and Other Iranian Stories in English in the pdf viewer below, or to download it in full, click here.

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