Witness name and surname: Withheld
The place about which he is testifying: Karaj
Witness status: Injured, Witnessed to assault and battery, firing at people at the place of their congregation
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Withheld
I was returning from my work on the night of 15 November when I saw Special Unit men standing there with pellet guns and even the war weapons. I was in a taxi and was told that the price of gas had gone up without warning. Then I realized what was going on.
The next morning news circulated everywhere that people had staged a sit-in, vehicles were not moving and streets were closed. My workplace is a few kilometres away from my house and I had no choice but to walk. When I was walking, I believe it was 11:00 a.m. I arrived at the Rejaie T-junction of Karaj or the T-junction of Gohardasht where I saw vehicles standing. Under the bridge of the Gohardasht T-junction people had assembled very peacefully. I also joined the people and started shouting slogans. It was all quite peaceful until 02:00 p.m. Police officers were standing in front of us. There were about 20 motor bikers and 2 or 3 Special Unit’s vehicles when their commander came and said: ‘I too have problem with this (high prices); if you do not shout radical slogans, we have no problem. You may continue.’ People were encouraged that the police was supporting them and they could easily stage their protests. At about 03:30 or 04:00 p.m. suddenly the sound of motor bikes was heard coming from the direction of Sepah Square of Karaj where the base of Sepah is located. A very large group of the Sepah motor bikers passed through the vehicles and the people, who did not expect it at all, and were shocked. As soon as they arrived, they got off their motor bikes and started beating the people without any warning. A number of them, who were sitting behind their motor bikes, started firing at people with paint balls so as to mark them. Another group fired plastic bullets and pellets. They didn’t care if it hit a man on his head or another sensitive spot, causing disability or even death. They launched their attack. I was shaken to the core. It was the plainclothes men of the Sepah and the police who were hounding us. In the middle of this one person hit my body from behind and I fell on the ground. Two of them came over me and started beating me. They sprayed my face with pepper. I was totally defenceless. I struggled but it was of no use. My right hand broke. Two of them were sitting on me and were constantly beating me. My body was blue and black for one whole week. With the kindness of friends, I was able to escape from there but still I was in the middle of the clashes.
There was a woman with two very small kids at a bus stop. The kids were probably in class one of primary school. They had taken refuge there out of fear of the police. (The police) fired tear gas precisely inside the bus stop. It was really strange. They had no mercy for the mother and her kids. They were on foot. I was watching it all. During the entire clashes I was in the middle of the Gohardasht T-junction and was watching everyone. They were doing nothing; no slogans or anything. This made it more painful to watch. While I was watching this we got caught up in clashes with the officers once again. The street clashes continued and regretfully the Sepah forces, and police who said that they were supporting us, attacked us from the other side. They were prevailing over us and I was forced go away from there.
In the area where I was, no war bullets were fired until 04:00 p.m. However, when I was returning at about 08:00 p.m., the ground of Chehelmetri Street of Golshahr, Karaj, was full of blood, as if it was a war zone. (It was there that) the officers had suddenly launched their attack. It was a group of about 30 officers who fired their Kalashnikovs and Colts, without taking care to fire only at hands and feet; they just fired shots. One of my friends was hit by a bullet; it was a war bullet. I believe it had hit him on the shoulder. Our other friends tried to help him but the officers regretfully took him with them and whisked him in their black pickup truck. No one knows where they took him. He was not seen at all for two, three months.
Most of them were Special Unit police officers in all-black uniforms with the word “Police” written on the front and at the back, with helmets and shields. They had plastic shields on their bodies and legs. Some of them carried shields and batons, some carried weapons. On the other side there were the Sepah forces in guerrilla uniforms; they had helmets, shields and batons. Those who did not have batons used round shafts and canes. Their faces could not be seen. On that day of clashes, we too used hygiene masks in order to conceal our faces. On the other side, the officers had covered their faces either with the hygiene mask or veil or had tied scarves around their faces. For that reason, we could not see their faces at all.
Some of them carried Kalashnikovs. They used three types of weapons: paintballs for identification purposes, or pellets or plastic bullets, and war bullets. On the night of 16 November most of the sounds we heard and the things we saw were war bullets.
Wherever they saw someone they would fire at them. It didn’t make any difference for them whether they were protesters or pedestrians. In the city of Karaj I heard the story that one man in Hosseinabad was going to a shop when they shot at him. I believe he died. I did not see it myself, others told me about it. They (the officers) would come at once and remove the dead body. They would fire from all directions. There was no warning at all to go home and disperse.
(The forces) were (stationed) at different places, here and there. Some of them were on motorbikes and fired while driving. Others attacked as a group. Some of them attacked with batons; they fired from behind. That is, those officers who were behind the ones with batons would start shooting at close quarters.
At the time when I was at the Gohardasht T-junction, my mother was crossing at Haft Tir in Karaj. She had no intention of shouting slogans or was an adversary; she was opposed to (high prices) but shouted no slogans. According to her and some friends, a motor biker, who was passing by her at high speed, hit her with his baton at her waist and she fell down and started shouting and yelling but to no avail; the biker(s) had gone. They didn’t care if someone was protesting or not; they would just hit the people. (The police) would haul as many people as would fit in their vehicles and take them away. No medical help or first-aid was available. There were only the police, Sepah and Basij. The only thing that I saw was the people throwing stones in self defence or running away. The officers attacked people in groups, would decimate them and would go away.
The street skirmishes had reached a high pitch on 17 November. Officers’ violence was also more than on the first day. At about 07:00 p.m. we went to Gohardasht, 1st roundabout, where there was the concentration of protests. We arrived there and saw the city in a strange condition. Sound of firing was pervasive. Police vehicles were everywhere. Street surface was full of broken glass; blood could be seen at certain places on the street surface. There were too many officers. They even stopped passing cars. It was a state of complete martial law. A number of people were also engaged in skirmishes with the officers. The officers either fired shots or threw tear gas. The situation was very bad. If you pulled down the window glass of your car, you could smell pepper spray and tear gas. We were forced to go back as the officers had put a lot of pressure on us. They prevented us from entering the main theatre of events.
We came back and went to 45-meter Street of Golshahr. From the beginning of the street one could see the skirmishes. The officers attacked from the street above. The people were on the other side of the street and were shouting slogans and defending themselves with stones. Here the slogans had become somewhat radical. When the Sepah forces also arrived, it infuriated people even more. There were skirmishes in most places. People were running away. We got off the car and joined the skirmishes. We also shouted slogans and threw stones towards the officers. The intensity (of fighting) increased. The number of security forces, in a sudden movement, increased. They had brought reinforcements from other places and were attacking us. They attacked us with their full force with their motorbikes and vehicles and started shooting at us. They beat us with batons; with round shafts, if they had no batons. They hit wherever they could. I saw them hitting at heads. Many of them would hit at the waist, or occasionally on the hands or legs.
(I witnessed firing on the second day too). The police forces were the same black uniform ones from the Special Unit. Whatever I saw and the blood stains on the ground seemed to be caused most likely by war bullets. I saw no paint balls at all on the second day. I could hear the sounds of war bullets, sometimes pellets and plastic bullets. Then I ran away and came to my house. I was in a very bad condition. This bad condition persisted for two weeks because of what I had seen and whatever bad experience I had, and the feeling of fear that they might raid my house at night and take me away. Sounds of vehicles and motorbikes caused stress in me. If someone rang the door bell, I would really feel sick. I did not work up to December, January till the Fortieth Day ceremony of Mr. Pouya Bakhtiar in Behesht Sakineh (Cemetery) in Karaj. There was a gathering there which I attended and saw those scenes once again.
I can only say that compared to the protests I had joined previously; the protests of November were really scandalous. The violence shown by the officers was too much; they had no mercy at all. Certain sources said that about 300 people were killed only in Alborz, Karaj, Shahr Ghods and its neighbourhoods.