Dec. 24 – Iran reported its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant this week, as the government urged Iranians to get their booster jabs.
Iran is currently the worst-affected country in the Middle East by the pandemic. Iran’s government has recorded a total of at least 131,000 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic began, while reported infections rose by more than 1,900 over a 24-hour period on Sunday.
An estimated 50 million people in the country have now received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine, out of a population of 85 million.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps could receive funds which amount to more than double the budget allocated to the force by the government in 2021, following a bill presented in parliament by Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi.
The proposed legislation earmarked 930 trillion rials — an estimated US $22 billion — for the coming financial year. The IRGC received 403 trillion rials from the Iranian government in 2021.
The bill also increased the budget for Iran’s conventional military forces, from 212 trillion rials to an estimated 339 trillion rials, approximately US $8 billion.
And human rights experts at the United Nations condemned the execution of a Kurdish prisoner in Iran which was carried out in secret and without giving prior notice to his family or lawyer.
Heidar Ghorbani was executed on Sunday for his alleged involvement in the murders of three men in 2016, following a trial which was labelled “deeply flawed” by the United Nations.
Javaid Rehman, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran said the execution was “yet another sign of clear disregard for [Iran’s] obligations under international human rights law.”