Witness’s Sex: Male
Place testified about: Kermanshah
Witness’s condition: Injured, arrested, witness to firing at people, has information about those killed in the protests
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Public
I was going to my workplace in the morning around 10:30 – 11:00 AM when I saw many people had assembled at Silu Intersection and Atash Neshani Intersection. I joined the crowd. Some Basijis mingled with the people and set certain places on fire. At that point, the plainclothesmen quickly came into the crowd and, without warning, fired shots at people with shotguns. Keffiyehs or masks fully covered their faces. I was struck by shotgun bullets around noon on Azadi Avenue. One hit my right cheek, and some hit the muscles in the back of my leg. The injury was not so severe that I could not continue my work. Everyone got hit by a couple of those pellets. I even saw one person who was hit in the eye. Later, his eye was removed. When I inquired about him later, I learned his name was Mohsen Mahmoudi Kermani. He was arrested subsequently and committed suicide after some time because of the mental issues arising from his arrest and torture.
When someone was wounded, people would try, as much as possible, to shove him in a car and take him away from that area. The streets were so crowded that the ambulance could not reach the wounded person. If someone accompanied the injured person to the hospital, they would arrest him. They had given clubs to sweepers and municipal employees and made them go to the front. The municipal employees had covered their faces.
The police officers were of two types: one group belonged to the anti-riot unit and wore clothes of a homogeneous green colour; the other group had light-green cadre clothes over the upper body. Their pants were dark green. Some were armed; some were unarmed. The policemen on guard from morning until 1 – 2:00 PM were not armed; they only carried clubs. Then a group of armed men from the Kermanshah HQ joined them. All of them were wearing masks. The forces that joined after that were from the special unit and were armed. They carried weapons such as AK-47s, Uzis, or MP5s. “NOPO Police” was inscribed on the special unit’s vehicles. Most of the NOPO policemen had covered their faces and wore helmets with visors.
Some Basijis entered the area where the people had assembled and set certain places on fire. They also set fire to the official vehicles of the Kermanshah Fire Department. Since I was close to the scene, I saw it myself. The Basijis started fires to be free to commit assault and violence against the people. At that point, they started to shoot at people with shotguns. Then, in no time, a number of plainclothes men and policemen began to fire at people with shotguns.
When people charged at the police stations, the regular policemen- who were stationed at the police stations- as well as the plainclothesmen fired shots at people with shotguns. Between 8:30 and 9:00 PM, close to Be’sat Police Station 17, which is a part of Jafarabad, one of our neighbours was shot directly in the eye. His name was Nader Bijanvand, he was 22- 23-years-old, and he was killed. Another person who was not involved in the protests was struck in the leg by several bullets and paralysed. Others, who were only passing through that area or neighbourhood, were also hit by bullets. They shot directly at the heart and head. The firing was directed at people from all sides. There were four or five plainclothesmen that were firing shots at everyone. A number of snipers were already stationed on the rooftops of ordinary buildings and people’s houses. Only the light (of their weapons) could be seen when it hit the ground or the people. They carried Kalashnikovs and assault weapons, such as G3 and Qenaseh, which was clear from the bullets that had hit the doors and walls. Four or five plainclothesmen got out of a taxi and began shooting. People were shot at from all directions.
I witnessed the killing of only one person; but later, I heard that two other men were also struck by bullets (and died) on the street behind us- Shariati Avenue, which is a part of Jafarabad. Plainclothesmen in a car fired at two persons. One of them was deaf and dumb; they shot him directly in the head and heart. I saw another person around Azadi Square who was struck by bullets. I dragged him a few feet inside an alley but saw that it was of no use. They were attacking, and I ran away from that area.
They had shot at the heart of a 15- 16-year-old kid in the neighbourhood of Keyhanshahr. Later, when I asked, they said that he had died as a martyr. Subsequently, I visited his home. A friend of mine was also hit by three bullets: one in his jaw and two in his abdomen.
The plainclothesmen, the Basijis, IRGC, and the Intelligence officers would shoot anyone who passed on that road. They fired directly at any number of people gathered, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Assault and battery were carried out (against people) by the policemen. The special unit dispersed the people. Those caught between the Basijis and the policemen were arrested and beaten up.
An assault bullet hit my right arm, around 8:00 PM., in front of the police station. They fired shots at people from the rooftops in front of Police Station 17, Be’sat, Jafarabad district. Those who fired shots were plainclothesmen and had covered their faces. It was dark, but we could see the plainclothesmen: one getting out of a car or a taxi, and others on rooftops, firing shots. Those who were on rooftops were armed; they were snipers. I believe they were firing a heavy weapon like a Qenaseh or G3. Someone shoved me in a car and took me away from the scene. Ambulances were sitting a few kilometres ahead. They handed me over to an ambulance, and it took me to Taleghani Hospital in Kermanshah. The wounded people were so many that they could not attend to everyone. Those treated with superficial injuries were arrested there, and their eyes were blindfolded. For that reason, I borrowed a piece of clothing from someone, left the hospital and went to a private hospital where I received treatment.
I wanted to leave Iran (with my family). However, I was forced to come back from the border due to bad weather. I left my family in a safe place and went to my friend’s house. When I opened the door at two or three at night, 20-25 armed plainclothesmen from the Intelligence Ministry came towards me. Some of them were ahead of the others and put a gun to my head. They trampled over my stitched arm with their feet. I had some money with me and some at home; they expropriated it. They tied my head, face, hands, and feet with scarves and keffiyehs. They did the same to the one who had sheltered me and shoved us in a vehicle. The person who had sheltered me was given a one-year suspended sentence, and he is now free on bail.
Later, we realised that we were at the Kermanshah Ministry of Intelligence. They seized our National Card, ID Cards, passports, and whatever we had. The sum of $2000 plus 130,000 dinars ($89) was in my pocket. The Intelligence Ministry gave me a receipt for it. Later, when they searched my house, they found 11,600,000 dinars ($7947) in a box on the TV table; they expropriated that too. They threw us in a room where six or seven people were already there. We were kept for one night at the Intelligence Ministry’s detention centre, located close to Sepah Square in Kermanshah. After that, they brought three to five other people to the cell. They threw me in a solitary cell, where I was kept until I was brought to court. When I was there, an examining magistrate named Shahbazi came. They said that he was the judge in my case. Later, we learned that Shahbazi was not a judge but an interrogator. When I asked for a lawyer, he said I could not have one. After 15 days, the Intelligence Ministry interrogators brought a camera before us. I had blinkers on my eyes. I had previously told them that I had nothing to say to any media in front of a camera, I did not speak at all and remained silent. They tortured me at night.
I was in solitary confinement for 37 days and was tortured, physically and mentally, many times. I was subjected to interrogation every day. I was blindfolded during the interrogations. On their interrogation room door, Intelligence Ministry was written. Initially, it was mental torture most of the time. They were looking for a confession. They said that we killed those killed in Kermanshah. One Army officer was also killed in another neighbourhood. They demanded that I confess to having killed that officer. I told them I came out to the street because of the petrol price hike. They said: “No, you are an anti-revolutionary and a separatist.” I could hear the shouts and cries of one woman. They said: “This is your wife. If you do not confess, we will kill her under torture. If you confess, we will send her back to her home and hearth.” I could hear the voices of (other tortured) people.
They had two or three different types of torture. First, they used a lock and chain in a certain way that was called “meekh tavileh” (stable nail). Then, they had a chain that passed between your legs and came down from your shoulders. You had to remain half -standing for hours. I do not know how many hours I remained in that half-standing position. Then, they would hit our backs with a cable or a wooden stick. They had another method of torture: they would make you lie down on a steel chair and tie you in ten different places. Five or six torturers would come to you and ask you to confess. They would say: “If you do not confess, we will not even give your corpse to your family.” Slowly, they would strike at your heels with a cable 40-50 times. They would hit with such force that if they hit a wall, it would crack. They threatened you with death both at the Intelligence Ministry and outside. They would say: “You want to get out? We will kill you, even if we have to stage an accidental death, and we will not even give your corpse to your family.” Once every few days, two of them would step on my hands to open my wound once again. My wound was in a very bad condition. At the Intelligence Ministry, there was a doctor who attended the wounded. We had a space of about 2 x 2 meters that served as a bath, toilet, and bedroom; everything was crammed in it. But the food was good. They forced me to make a written confession. They wanted to connect me to (political) groups in Kurdistan that the Islamic Republic deems anti-revolutionary. They would say that I was a member of the Democratic Party.
I was permitted to contact my family after 25 days, who then learned about my arrest. My family had often made inquiries to the Intelligence Ministry and the IRGC, but these organisations denied any knowledge of me. While I was under arrest, they had visited the workplaces of all my brothers, and my house. They confiscated some foreign money I had, deeming it was the money of Kurdish political groups. They had found a Kurdish flag and a necklace, and invoking these as evidence; they had declared me a separatist.
After 37 days at the Intelligence Ministry, I was blindfolded and taken to the Kermanshah Revolutionary Court before the very same Mr. Shahbazi. They did not allow me to be represented by a lawyer. The entire interrogation at the court happened in under ten minutes. A number of people were ahead of me. Inside the room, there was the judge’s clerk who typed papers and arranged files. Two masked Intelligence Ministry agents were sitting behind me. I was there for about one hour. The judge asked the questions one by one. He said the Intelligence Ministry had found such and such a thing, and such a photograph. He charged me with breach of internal peace and security of Iran, and propaganda against the Government of Iran. He waited for me to sign and confess to the charges. He told me and another person: “I will send you to the Intelligence Ministry. If you confess to what the Intelligence Ministry says, your punishment will be lighter. If you do not confess, you will go to Bench 15 of the Evin Court in Tehran where your sentence will be heavier, you will be executed.” We did not sign anything and were sent again to the Intelligence Ministry. I was there with another person for three days, and I was tortured once again.
After three days, I went again before the court. The judge said: “Confess to these matters and sign it.” When I refused to confess, the judge said: “Your crime is serious. Tell your family to bring 500 million tomans ($118,063) as security.” We did not have 500 million tomans, so he then agreed to security of 200 million rials ($47,225). After three days in Dizilabad Prison, I was released on bail.
About two or three weeks later, I went to the Parviz Khan border to see whether I was prohibited from leaving Iran or not. When I deposited the exit fee at the Parviz Khan border, two plainclothesmen came and took me to Ghasr-e Shirin Detention Centre once again. I remained there for 24 hours. Then, they contacted the judge, who said: “He is on bail. Take all the documents he has and let him go.” I had a passport, several cards, and some dinars. I remained in Kermanshah for a few days. One police officer told me my wife and children were prohibited from leaving Iran. They monitored the comings and goings of my family until I left Iran through the smugglers’ route. The condition of my wound was very bad.
A trial was held, in absentia, for me and a sentence of five-year imprisonment for demonstrations and breach of public peace and security was handed down. I also received another five-years imprisonment for membership in political groups opposed to the Islamic Republic. A month later, the court of review confirmed the 10-year sentence. I had a house worth 500-600 million tomans ($118,063-$141,676), which I had to sell at half its worth to get the 200 million toman bail. The judge’s clerk took a bribe of 30 million tomans ($7,083) to replace the deed with the money.