Witness’s name and surname: Withheld
Relation to deceased: Mother
Name of deceased: Withheld
Deceased’s date of birth: 1998
Deceased’s place of death: Withheld
Deceased’s date of death: 16/11/2019
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Withheld
There was heavy traffic on 25th of Aban (16 November) due to protests against the high price of gas, everyone had turned off the engines of their vehicles. My son left the house.
He got caught up in the traffic from 8-9 p.m. Our house is located at a distance of only 10 minutes from there. We saw that it had become too chaotic, and fires were burning at 10:00 p.m. We told him to leave the vehicle and come back. When his sister phoned him several times, My son said: ‘There is a huge crowd of people here; they are protesting, and no one is bothering them. The roads are blocked, and no one can move.’ He turned the phone off to come back home but we never saw him again. Then we heard the sound of shooting. His father went out to bring him back. When he went there, he saw blood all over and my son’s vehicle was there everywhere, but my son was not there.
From whoever he asked and whatever he did, he could not find him. We went to the police station, to the hospitals of the Intelligence Department, to prisons, and made inquiries but nobody knew anything about my son. We even went to a shopkeeper of that neighbourhood and asked him to check his shop security camera which may help understand what had happened to him. He said that the security agents had taken the camera and erased (the film). We searched for Arsham from Saturday night until Wednesday but no one gave us a satisfactory answer.
One of our acquaintances works for the Ministry of Intelligence. We phoned him and he pursued the matter and informed us that my son was not in prison. They had told him that the same night my son was killed, they had found his ID card in his pocket and from that card they had obtained his particulars. One day before they informed us of his having been killed, they told us that he was struck by a bullet and we should search for him in the hospital. Ultimately when we made so many phone calls everywhere, they said that his corpse was in the morgue that was reserved for the police, Intelligence and Security of Iran. My brother had gone to the morgue on Wednesday and had seen that they had killed my son and had put him there.
When I heard this news, I fell sick and went to the hospital. One doctor asked me what the matter was and when I told him the story, he said, ‘I have seen your son after having been struck by bullet in the hospital. The bullet had struck his spleen and he had a lot of bleeding. I asked him how he was feeling; he just squeezed my hand and passed away.’
It took four days before they handed over his corpse to us. They had stipulated certain conditions for his burial. Some (members of the family) went there and gave the undertaking that we will not do anything and will remain silent. They told us to take his corpse right away and bury him overnight; if we opened our mouth, they would take back the corpse and would not allow burying him. When they (the family members) went there to take possession of his corpse, the cemetery was surrounded by the security agents. Initially they told us to say our prayers for him right there and bury him right away. However, upon our insistence, they allowed us to bury him in his father’s neighbourhood.
When they sent the corpse with ambulance, the security forces had washed his body, had wrapped it in the shroud, put it in the plastic bag and wanted to bury him themselves. When our family members went there to take possession of my son’s corpse, they had seen other shrouded corpses which the security men wanted to bury themselves. They threatened and said that if we made noises, they would divert the ambulance and would not hand over my son’s corpse to us and would bury it the same way they had buried others. They said that they would bury him in an unknown place, and we would never know in all our life where he was buried.
They only allowed us to see his face. I was very frightened that night. I said that first they killed him and now they would take away his corpse too for no reason at all. I did not speak one word; I just looked at his face. Now I regret that at least I should have embraced him.
They only allowed me to see his face. But I do not know what he had gone through. His face had swollen a great deal. His nose still had traces of blood. It was raining that night. We buried him in the middle of rain and mud at night in the cemetery. They stood beside us and told us to bury him right away. If they had allowed me, I would certainly have taken his corpse to the Forensic Medicine Department to see what had killed my son, what had happened to him before his death, and how he was killed? They told us to bury him right away.
They had fired one pellet on his body, one of those that spread out inside the body. My brother, at the time when they were getting ready to bury him, went inside his grave. Later he said that there was a hole on the side of his spleen, on his abdomen and on his waist. The Forensic Medicine did not give us any paper, but it was written in his death certificate, which we obtained from the National Organization for Civil Registration, that the cause of death was “strike by a sharp object.”
They did not return any of his personal effects, neither his clothes, nor his cell phone. Later on, they phoned from the Intelligence Department and said that they would declare him a martyr and would pay his diyyeh (blood-money). I said that my son was not for sale and I didn’t want to exchange him for money. My question is, if you say that you have not done it, if you have not committed this crime, then why didn’t you give the clothes and the bullet that you had removed from his body for examination? I have been saying this for the last two years: tell us who is his murderer? We don’t want anything from you. You identify his killer. We want to see who has killed our son, for what crime he has killed him.
I told them: ‘I’ll pay twice the amount of this blood-money to you if you tell me who has killed my son. I have come here to know who has killed my son. I am seeking justice for his blood. He lived for 21 years to end up like this. I am crying and wailing for the last two years but no one listens to me. I pursued the matter several times but basically, they just don’t accept (their guilt), let alone doing anything for us.
I had not given any interview to any local or foreign media about my son up to this date. I am seeking justice for him, he was killed for no justifiable reason. I wanted to file a complaint; I spoke to two lawyers and one judge. They said that they would pay me his blood-money at best but would do nothing in particular and that I shouldn’t be wasting my time.
We do not know who and from which forces fired shots at my son. But when I went to the police, the acquaintance we have there said: ‘Basijis came and surrounded the people; then came a group of the Special Unit men, and the shooting began after their arrival. Some say that the snipers fired shots from above the rooftop.’ But we did not hear anything reliable, like someone would come forward and testify that he or she had seen this and that’s how it happened. That night they had fired shots on a large number of people but mostly it had struck them on their legs or hands. There was one man who had a cell phone in his pocket. The bullet had hit his cell phone which was completely shattered. They had fired at a lot of people that night. Another person who was a passerby was killed that night; they shot on his forehead.
They raised a lot of objections for the mourning ceremony; they didn’t want us to hold it. For the anniversary, too; they took an undertaking from us both last year and this year, like we would not make any noises, we would not criticise the government and the system failing which they would not allow us to hold any ceremonies.
The National Intelligence and Security would contact us and harass us. When they phoned us last year, I spoke to them myself. They said, ‘If you make noises we would not allow you to hold any ceremonies; we have stopped even people of higher ranks. We won’t allow you to hold his anniversary.’ For posting a story in Instagram someone from the security told us not to post it.
I can neither forgive nor forget. I have other children; they are still in shock. Basically, our lives have been turned upside down. Essentially, we do not know what to do. I only want my voice to reach everyone and I want them to be tried. We cannot speak a word; as soon as you open your mouth, they come and beat you up, take you to prison, torture you.
Every night I see nightmares; I cannot bear his last farewell face. I want to know how he was killed. Was he really shot? Did they smash his face with a baton? What did they do to his internal organs for I saw just his face; I did not see anything else.