Witness’s name and surname: Withheld
Relation to deceased: Brother
Name of deceased: Withheld, referred as M in this testimony.
Deceased’s date of birth: 1988
Deceased’s place of death: Withheld
Deceased’s date of death: 17/11/2019
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Withheld
17 November, My brother, closed his shop , around 06:00 p.m . He decides to go to his house and is killed on his way home. That night we waited for his return until 10 – 11 p.m. I said to the family that probably he was arrested by mistake on his way home. On this likelihood we started in the morning and made inquiries at many places. For instance, we had visited the Sepah and the police centers. They had told us that they had no knowledge of the matter. The worst-case scenario we thought of was injury. My brother went to the hospital at about 10:30 in the morning. They said there that a number of corpses were brought last night who had died in shooting, and that he could have a look at them. He looks at the corpses and finds that M was regretfully kept at the hospital morgue. The time of his death was described at 08:00 p.m. in the initial medical examination sheet. The ambulance had brought him to the hospital at 8:40 p.m. The bullet had struck him on the temple which, in the initial medical report was described as the place of entry and exit of a hard object.
The last time I saw my brother was in his own shop at 06:30 p.m. as I was going at about that time from my place of work to my house. I remember that people were shouting slogans around 06:30 p.m. in Street and we had to pass through that place. The Basijis attacked that place and the assembly of people was broken and assault bullets were shot by the Basijis and the Sepahis.
The forces that had descended on the road that day were composed of several groups: one group consisted of plainclothes men that were a part of the Intelligence Department . Another group consisted of the police force. I did not see the police firing on that street. I did not see the uniform of the Sepah as it was dark. But their forces and the design of their uniforms are different. My Friends had seen a couple of local hooligans who were carrying batons; they had covered their faces with masks and were standing on the roads, had occupied the place and were dispersing the people. The Basijis were in light, muddy colour military uniforms. They had shields in their hands and most of them were wearing masks. Since we did not get close to them and were at a distance of two three hundred meters, we did not see their weapons. Anyone who got close to them was either arrested by them or was insulted by them, or was hit by batons or kicked. They beat up old men and women by batons or kicked them.
I only noticed and felt that the bullets were passing between the legs and hitting the trees, doors, windows and walls and shutters and house number-plates. We were running in the same road when a man, tall, about 40-year-old, who was close to us, fell on the ground. I believe the bullet had hit his head. He was running away. It seems that he was shot from behind. I believe he died while he was standing. I do not know who fired the shot. Some say that it was a sniper who fired from the rooftop of a shopping centre located in the middle of the road. Lamps were turned off and the road was dark. They say that two persons died on that road; some say three. One was M and the other was this same forty-something person who is not familiar to us. We do not know the third person either.
According to witnesses and those who were there, when the firing started, they threw the corpse of M in a corner of the street and did not allow the people to carry his body to some place. It seems that one person wanted to wash that place with water, or they wanted to move the corpse. He was lying on the curb towards the street. The officers did not let anyone touch him; they said that if someone touched him, he too would be arrested. They even say that the people called the emergency time and again but the Basijis did not allow them to take him away. They have written in the initial medical sheet that the emergency (ambulance) appeared on the site at the insistence of the people. M’s dead body was transferred to the hospital. . But M had already died.
One of the witnesses knew M. The shutter of his shop gets stuck that day and he and one other person remain in the shop. His shop is close to the place where this thing happened for M. He says that the voice he heard was definitely of M. Three Basijis had seized M and were engaged in a verbal brawl with him. They get hold of M and take him towards the place where he was killed. M reciprocally shouts and yells and defends himself. They call him names, beat him up with batons and kick him around. The witness knows from the voices that there was a brawl between them. He says that he then heard the sound of a shot and the voice of M could no longer be heard and the brawl came to an end. They were in the shop and heard the voices. They open the shop after a half hour, forty minutes and see M’s dead body lying on the ground on the other side. The witness had not seen their uniforms, but the tone and speech of the Basijis is usually distinguishable from the police officers and plainclothes men; the Basijis usually are much more impolite and ruder. An old woman heard them talking. She heard one Basiji say to the other why he had done that. He replied that he made a mistake as he was confused.
They had written in the forensic medicine certificate that the cause of death was injury to the soft tissue of the brain caused by a hard object. They did not mention that shooting took place, or what was the calibre of the bullet and from which weapon it was fired. Considering that there was not much destruction of bone and tissue.I can say that probably the shot was fired from a long distance. The hole was very small. However, considering the conversation of those three Basijis and the testimony of the old woman, the question still arises for me which bullet was fired from a short distance and from where it was fired. They have not yet given us the letter of the Forensic Medicine Department. I demanded it from them but they said that presently they could not give it to me and that a judge’s order was required.
The same night we learned what had happened to M, we wanted to file a complaint with the penal section of the CID and open a file.. At the CID, I unwittingly saw the arrival of plainclothes men. They would come there with such arrogance, take out their weapons from behind their backs and hand it over. They told me there that M was killed by a stone that stuck his head; that stone was thrown by the demonstrators themselves by mistake, and the stone hit M. The CID were very inclined that we accept this scenario and say in virtual space that a stone had struck M. The CID had a photograph of M showing him being beaten up, falling on the ground, his clothes bloodied, his face bloodied and swollen. Signs of injuries were on the lips, mouth, face and jaws of M. It was completely evident that a lot of assault and battery had taken place before (his being shot). Injuries were so intense it was hard for me to believe that it was the face of my brother. They had beaten him up so much that his face was not recognizable. They had taken photographs of each and every one of those they had killed themselves. He wanted to show me the photograph. He was just turning pages. I saw a number of dead bodies. He asked: ‘You want to file a complaint?’ I said, yes. The same file which is with the CID a copy of it will be sent to the Prosecutor’s Office and we will follow up the case from the Prosecutor’s Office. The date of the court hearing is supposed to be notified to us and we will attend the hearing.
There was a heavy presence of the police force and plainclothes men (in the hospital) as there were many dead bodies. But we did not have much difficulty and challenge in taking possession of the corpse. When we did the identification, the title “of unknown identity” was removed from the file and the name of my brother was written on it, and his dead body was transferred to the Forensic Medicine Department. It was very crowded there. There were not too many security forces but the atmosphere was very heavy. Plainclothes men were there too. Families of most dead men had come over there and were busy mourning. At the front yard of the Forensic Medicine Department building they called names second by second and the survivors would go, identify their loved one, and take possession of his body. That morning at least 300 dead bodies were handed over by the afternoon, or the relatives were told to come the next day. The files of many were not processed. There was a 12-year-old girl; the bullet had exited from her neck.
M’s corpse was handed over almost in the afternoon when it was transferred to the cemetery The next day, 19 November, his burial took place at about 10 – 11 a.m. No problems were created for us, but many families were asked to give undertakings.
On the third or fourth day after his death, three persons from the Sepah Intelligence and the plainclothes came to our house and expressed their sympathies and regrets and said: ‘We have made inquiries. M was a good boy. He was not involved in this matter. We will certainly follow up the matter. His killer was a part of the people who started these demonstrations. He would be considered as a part of the martyrs.’ They had told us to put up whatever banners we liked and to hold the ceremonies in whatever manner we liked. After that, we heard no more from them; no blood money was paid or anything else.
As the 40th Day ceremonies of all the Aban (November) dead had fallen on the same day, a phone call was made to my father from the Security Police and he was told in respectful sentences but in a threatening manner to hold the ceremonies a little earlier due to a number of security issues. This would save him from facing problems. The next week he would not be allowed to hold it. They told him to try to make it brief.
For the anniversary ceremonies, they showed a different face of themselves. The grave of another deceased of November 2019 protests is located beside the grave of M. They wanted to hold very elaborate ceremonies for the anniversary. But the security men came to his grave, cancelled the ceremonies and scattered them all in general.. We were ten fifteen persons. Some plainclothes men took me aside and said: ‘End your ceremonies sooner; it is actually prohibited; you must not hold it at all.’ During those thirty forty minutes when we held the ceremonies, they would regularly make signs from around and show the watch. The ceremonies were held under strict security measures.
Last year a judge issued his judgment stating that M was killed by persons of unknown identity in the disturbances of 1398 (November 2019). Since the murderer is unknown, the case can no longer be pursued. The blood money should be paid out of the Security Fund. My father and I followed up the case and made some progress in the file for blood money or the title of martyr. Regretfully no money has been paid. We are waiting for the court hearing to be held. They said that they would notify us. We pursue the matter at the Governorate too. They say that they are waiting to hear from the Governor-General’s Office, and then they would see what they can do, whether they can or cannot pay anything.
Once a phone call was made by the Security Police and an indirect threat was made to my mother.
An old man was also killed in the neighbourhood. I have spoken to his son. He said: ‘We were told that they would bring the camera and make a documentary. We were supposed to say that a motor biker with two unidentified persons fired shots at my father and left. If we do this interview, they would pay us the blood-money.’ They declined this offer.