Witness Name and Surname: Kamyar Ahmadi
Relationship to the deceased: cousin
Name of deceased: Ershad Rahmanian
Deceased’s date of birth: 19/12/1995
Deceased’s place of death:Marivan
Deceased’s date of death: Unclear
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: public
Ershad Rahmanian’s mother, Hajar, is my mother’s cousin. Ershad’s mother lived with us for many years before her marriage, and we had a very close relationship with her; we used to call her auntie. So Ershad was like a cousin to me.
During the first few days after Ershad went missing, a family member gave me the news of it, as I was in Germany. He still hadn’t been found; some time passed, and nobody knew what had become of him. As this was after November and arrests had begun to be made, I told my mother to take the matter seriously and to pursue it. I was sure that they had arrested him because, at that time, many arrests were made in Marivan.
Ershad had recently obtained his bachelor’s degree in operating room anaesthetics and was preparing to study for a master’s degree. He participated in the November 2019 protests, then went missing without a trace several days after the protests. On 26 November 2019, a week after the demonstrations, Ershad took his mother to the hospital and back home. Then, he told his mother that he was going to Aber Bank to withdraw some money. However, he did not return from the bank, no one saw him withdrawing cash at the bank, and no one knew what had happened to him.
Martial law was imposed in Marivan for one week after the demonstrations began, and many arrests were made. I know that about 20 to 30 persons were arrested that week.
When Ershad didn’t return home on 26 November 2019, we had no idea where he could have gone. His family searched for him in many places; CID, a hospital, and the city of Sanandaj. They even visited the Imam Jomeh (Friday prayer leader) of Marivan, hoping that they might find some clue through him, but Ershad had vanished into thin air. According to their routine, the CID took down Ershad’s vital statistics (to notify the family if they found him). The Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC claimed they hadn’t arrested Ershad and had no knowledge of him.
During this time, someone made two phone calls to Ershad’s family. One was about ten days after his disappearance; the caller told the family that their son was under arrest and kept at the Intelligence Ministry detention centre in Sanandaj. However, the caller did not reveal any information as to their identity.
The next day, they phoned again and said that it was a mistake and that Ershad was with them. However, they did not say on whose behalf they were calling. Their phone number did not display (on the family’s phone screen). A family member said they clearly told her that Ershad was arrested, he would be released, and at any rate, he was there. The next day they called and said to come to Sanandaj. Then they phoned again and said he wasn’t there and there was no reason to come.
Twenty days later, on 16 December 2019, Ershad’s corpse was found in a river outside the city in the Garan Dam neighbourhood. One of the locals found a corpse near the dam and phoned the CID and the Intelligence Ministry. At that very moment, some of the locals photographed Ershad’s corpse and later posted the photos on the Internet. When the corpse was transferred to Marivan, the CID phoned the family since they had reported his disappearance to the Marivan CID. The family was told that a corpse was found, and they were asked to come and identify it and see whether it was their relative or not. Ershad’s brother and cousin (aunt’s daughter) went there and identified the body.
(When the corpse was found) blue spots were on his body. It was clear that his wrists had been tied. From the blue spots on his face, under his eyes and the cut on his eyebrows, it was clear that he had been tortured. If you look at the first photograph, on the riverbank, you will see both blood and blue spots. His shirt is entirely blood-soaked, and his face is deformed. There is a contusion under the face and bruising. Two family members who had seen the corpse, and the person who had washed the corpse, say that his skull was smashed and that there was a hole in Ershad’s skull. I do not know how accurately they have identified the hole in his head or whether it was made by a bullet or by a heavy and sharp object. One of his family members told me it was most likely from a bullet. But I do not know. The Forensic Medicine Department (FMD) should have said what the sharp object was and the reason for that hole. However, FMD did not refer to this hole in the head. They only wrote that the cause of death was being investigated.
Ershad’s family says that drowning cannot be the cause of death. If a corpse stays in the water, it swells up. That was not the case. The corpse was lying on the water’s edge. His family says that he was tortured and killed, and then they threw him in the water. However, in FMD’s report, no cause of death has been stated up to this date. They have only stated that the case is being investigated. Up to this moment, they have not given the result (of their investigation to the family). However, they have written on the death certificate that the cause of death “is being investigated.”
After Ershad’s corpse was found, his father was taken to the Intelligence Ministry several times, and he even had a heart attack during this period. The Intelligence Ministry asked him to say that Ershad had mental issues and committed suicide. His father said he was not like that; he neither committed suicide nor had any mental issues. He was a student and was busy with his studies. Then, they asked him to say that Ershad had problems with someone (and was killed because of a personal conflict). They were monitoring him to see if he was suspicious of anyone. They wanted to force the family to say that Ershad was killed because of a personal conflict.
Ershad’s family, however, refused to go along. The family said that they were sure he was arrested and, for whatever reason, did not cooperate with the authorities; they had killed him during torture.
When Ershad’s corpse was found, the authorities handed it over to the family the day after, but the security agents did not allow him to be buried in Marivan. Hence, the family took him to Sarvabad. The agents threatened his family; the family was not permitted to talk to the media.
On the day of his burial, his family were at the FMD, and I spoke to them directly from my residence in Germany. At that very moment, the place was crowded with security agents. They told the family to take Ershad to Sarvabad. I do not know why they said Sarvabad. If he was supposed to be buried in the family cemetery, they should have taken him to the village from where we originate. But, instead, they said he could not be buried in Marivan, and the closest place was Sarvabad.
The security agents patrolling that day in front of the FMD were mostly plainclothesmen. At the burial in Sarvabad, a family member said he knew them. Mostly, they were from the Intelligence Ministry, and all were in plain clothes. On the first day of the memorial service, Ershad’s younger uncle named Saadi was sick. He said that they (security forces) had killed Ershad, taken him away, and it was their doing. They threatened him (the uncle), took him to the Intelligence Ministry a couple of times, and told him they had not arrested Ershad. After that, they threatened him (the uncle) and told him not to speak about the matter.
During this one year, they also took Ershad’s father to the Intelligence Ministry five or six times, told him certain things and asked why the family spoke to the media. I gave the interviews. His father said to them that the family had done nothing; if someone had done something, he was not of the family.
Sanandaj Radio & Television received a report from an interrogator. Following that, reporters went to the family’s house. It is said that they went to the house with a video camera. They asked the family to say that the anti-revolutionaries had killed their son, but the family refused to say so; they gave the details of how it happened. Radio and Television’s narrative was that the demonstrators had done it: the people or bandits killed him.
The family is afraid to lodge a complaint or pursue the matter further; they fear for the safety of Ershad’s brother, Milad. The Intelligence Ministry has told the family to pursue their case only against an individual killer. The family has no evidence; no one has seen anything. His brother has checked all the closed-circuit TV cameras in the neighbourhood. The local supermarket’s camera took Ershad’s picture. His last photo shows him passing through an alley, buying something, and then giving it to a dog in the passage. This complaint was to no avail; the Intelligence Ministry has not informed the family how the case is being investigated.