Witness name & surname: Withheld

Sex: Female

The place about which he is testifying: Najafabad

Witness status: Witnessed beating and detention of protesters

Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Withheld 

 

November 16

Returning from Najafabad in the morning, my husband told me that a demonstration had broken out there. I went to Najafabad National Garden with my mother and husband. There were not many people, but their number gradually increased. The security forces had not yet arrived. Women brought some chairs and put them between the traffic light and the sidewalk to prevent the cars from moving. We sat there; other people joined us and it became crowded.

Two or three hours later, the anti-riot forces arrived. Initially they stood aside without any intervention. Once people started protesting, they reacted by shooting tear gas and hitting the protesters with batons. Some of them wore the uniforms similar to those of the IRGC forces consisting of a grey jacket like soldiers’ uniforms; however, most of them were dressed in protective outfits and helmets, and carried batons and shields. There were about 20 or 30 of them. Their uniforms were black; they wore a gun around their waist, and had knife as well. There were also a number of police officers among them, but they didn’t intervene. The most violent ones were the officers who held shields and batons. There were also some plainclothes officers dressed in suits. They had walkie talkies in hand and ordered the anti-riot forces to go this way or that way. Some of them had covered their faces under helmets. Those whose faces were visible were young; they were about 17 or 18 years.

In Najafabad, all the protests usually take place in National Garden Square which is surrounded by shopping centres. When security forces shot tear gas, we ran towards these shopping centres. Most of the protesters were young. The security forces tossed tear gas canisters in the entrance of shopping centres, causing irritation and pain in our eyes. When they left and the tear gas cleared, we came out to the street. The officers beat men more than women, hit them in the back and shoulders, ran after them if they fled away, and struck them in the legs and back.

The protests became intense; the officers beat protesters and arrested many of them. We were running towards the shopping centres and witnessed how they detained people and took them away. None of the protesters were armed. No one dared to be armed, because they knew the security forces would shoot them in case of having any weapon. I saw the officers firing live ammunition in the air, but not at the people. The shots were fired by those holding shields. I could just hear them and was not able to recognize by whom they were fired.

We returned home, for the fear of getting hurt. The security forces were very brutal. There were about 500 or 600 protesters. Many people were standing aside and watching without participating. The protests continued for two days. My mother went to the gatherings, but I didn’t. She recounted that the security forces were shooting rubber bullets. Then we found out that they were killing protesters, so we stopped going there anymore.

It was said that four or five young persons were killed in Yazdanshahr, a city near Najafabad. One of them was a boy living in Yazdanshahr who died after receiving a bullet in his waist. I think he was shot on November 17. He was a 27 or 28-year-old man. His family reportedly paid 18 million tomans to receive his body. {He was buried in Yazdanshahr.} We heard that some protesters were killed in Najafabad as well, but we didn’t know them. One of our relatives was arrested. I heard that after great effort his family succeeded to take him out of prison. Even after posting bail by the family, the authorities refused to release him. At last, he was freed by the intervention of one of their acquaintances in the IRGC.

Many Basij members and IRGC officers live near Najafabad. Habib Jamshidian and Mazaher Jamshidian are two members of Basij and whenever any protest occurs in Najafabad, they are there. They stand between Najafabad and Goldasht guarding and looking into the cars to identify those arriving or leaving the city. They were also present during the protests on 16th November.