In another sign of popular anger with the Iranian regime’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic within its own borders, more than 100 academics have signed a protest letter charging Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — the country’s ‘supreme leader’ — as “the No. 1 culprit in the COVID-19 pandemic becoming a national disaster!”

The March 29 letter, translated into English by the Middle East Media and Research Institute (MEMRI), asserted that Khamenei and other regime officials had concealed information about the coronavirus outbreak from the public and failed to take measures to curb the spread of the disease, out of political and religious considerations.

At the same time, the letter pointed out, the regime had been actively promoting conspiracy theories about American and “Zionist” responsibility for the pandemic.

As of Thursday, more than 3,000 people had died from coronavirus in Iran, out of a total of over 50,000 infected. The dissidents’ letter noted, however, that “Iran’s doctors, as well as the heads of the World Health Organization, estimate that the number of officially-recognized deaths [in Iran] is much smaller than the true number.”

Adopting a defiant tone, the letter observed, “As the crisis is reaching its peak, Leader [Khamenei] adds demons to his list of perpetual enemies, and aid from Doctors Without Borders is turned away. While all citizens are forbidden from performing burial rites, military personnel under the leader’s command held a funeral for the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] general who died of the coronavirus, calling him a martyr, and misinforming citizens with the utter falsehood that the funeral was a spontaneous event.”

The letter urged Iranian citizens to heed only the advice of medical professionals.

“Dear people of our homeland!” it said. “In the absence of a responsible, efficient and truthful regime, only doctors and medical professionals are devoted to protecting citizens from this virus. They can be the source for citizens seeking to carry on with life despite all the limitations.”