Witness’s name and surname: Ali Rezaei
Relation to deceased: brother
Name of deceased: Naser Rezaei
Deceased’s date of birth: 17/09/1983
Deceased’s place of death: Fardis, Karaj
Deceased’s date of death: 17/11/2019
Type of testimony before the Tribunal: Public
My brother, Naser, had a master’s degree in Agriculture. However, as he could not get a job with his degree, he engaged in the business selling and buying cars. He had married two years ago but had no children yet.
Naser phoned me on 17 November at 5:15 pm. He was at the demonstrations. He said that nothing would happen there, they had just come out and were protesting peacefully. But I could hear firing, running, and shouting. He said, “I am at Fardis Avenue. All the boys have assembled here and are shouting slogans. There is a Basij base here, too.” They are firing shots.
My brother was not a civil or political activist. He had gone out on the street to protest just because his financial situation was somewhat bad.
Fifteen minutes after that call, I rang Naser on his mobile. Someone else answered the phone and asked what relationship I had with the owner of the mobile. I said that I was his brother. He replied that my brother was shot on the head, on his left eye. Later, I asked several persons who were there at that time. One of them said, “I saw that Nasser was shot and had fallen on the ground. They were firing at that time from the side of the Basij base and from the rooftops of the surrounding buildings.”
We were in a provincial city and did not know what was going on. He wanted to take him (Naser) to the hospital, and just gave me the address of the hospital. The person who answered his phone was not my brother’s friend and we never saw him again. He handed over my brother’s personal effects to the hospital. When we went to the hospital, they said that someone had brought my brother to the hospital, but they knew nothing about him. I think my brother had died immediately when the bullet hit him. When we set out from the provincial town to Karaj, we regularly called his phone and the person who had taken my brother to the hospital would answer our call. We dialled several times until he said not to hurry as everything was over.
We do not know how or who fired at him, in what condition he was, whether someone was by his side or not. Nothing was known. We only know that a bullet hit his head. We did not see if the bullet was inside his head or had exited from it. They allowed us only a moment to identify the corpse. I removed the bandage that they had put on his head for a moment. They did not allow us more than this. They later said that he must be taken to the Forensic Medicine Department to be identified, and that we must not touch him. It was written in the letter given to us by the Forensic Medicine Department, “struck on the eye by a bullet.”
They gave us the address and we went there (Ghaem Hospital, Karaj). Close to the hospital, few streets above were entirely sealed. You could not go there at all. The next day, at six in the morning, we went to the hospital. We told them why we were there. They said that my brother was not there, that we should go to Behesht-e Sakineh, and that his corpse was sent there. We went there and were asked to produce certain documents and give the undertaking that after taking the corpse we would bury it at once. We said that we could not bury him there and that we had to go to our provincial town. We were able to get the papers from them and bring (his corpse) to our provincial town. They gave us one moment’s permission, in the hospital, to identify whether he was our brother. We said, “Yes, he was.” Then, they took him in the ambulance to Behesht-e Sakineh Cemetery , Karaj. They said there that they will not hand over the corpse, that we must go and sign the paper. We went to the public prosecutor. They handed over the corpse to us at 05:00 pm and said, “As soon as you arrive there, you must bury him.” We said that we would arrive at night. They replied that even if we arrived at night in our city, we must bury him right away. We arrived at a village in Kurdistan at 11:00 pm.
When we arrived to our provincial town, the plainclothes security agents were there. They told us to bury (the body) immediately and not to notify anyone in the family. But a number of family members who already had knowledge (of this event) had come over there.
We went to Behesht-e Sakineh where they told us to fill out certain forms in order to take possession (of the corpse). We filled out those forms. We were able to complete our task from seven in the morning until close to sunset. Of course, there was no one there to talk to. They just delayed for some time. They said that (certain things) had to be clarified (after which the body would be handed over) because there were many (persons there in the same situation). (They told us) things like that. Since we are not in good financial condition, some of our family members followed up the paperwork and things like that. We were able to take possession (of his body) at six in the evening.
They obtained an undertaking from us in Behesht-e Sakineh. We do not know to which organization they (the people who obtained the undertaking from us) belonged; they did not clarify it. But it happened at Behesht-e Sakineh. They said, “We have orders; you must give us an undertaking that you will bury (his corpse) tonight, without any ceremonies.” We gave the undertaking. We had no choice because (otherwise they would not) have handed over his corpse. In Behesht-e Sakineh they had washed and shrouded (the body of my brother). That is how they had handed over the body so that when we arrived there, we would have nothing to do except burying his body. They showed us only a part of his head so that we would know (the corpse) was ours (We did not see the bullet spot on his body). They had wrapped the entire body, and no one could open (the shroud). An ambulance belonging to Behesht-Sakineh transferred the corpse to our provincial town. We paid its fare. They had instructed the ambulance driver to hand over (the body) on the spot where it was to be buried. When we arrived at our provincial town, plainclothes agents were there. It was clear that they were waiting to see that we bury him, complete the ceremonies, and go home.
We could not hold the burial and memorial services according to our customs and our wishes; they just allowed us to go to a mosque where people came and offered their condolences. There were agents posted even at the mosque, plainclothes agents known to us were all around us. (There were people too) who wanted to interview (us). But those interviews were fake. For instance, they would ask certain questions and we were supposed to memorize the answers and repeat them. We did not agree to do it.
When we wanted to install a tombstone, they intervened then too. The verse we had chosen for it was the verse of (poet) Shamlou. They did not allow us to write it on the tombstone. After making a few changes here and there, we were able to write it. It was not clear (which organization was creating problems). I went to the place where tombstones are ordered. The same stonemason phoned me and said that he could not do my job; someone had come over there and told him not to do it.
They did not threaten us for the holding of memorial service; they just wanted it to be held in a normal way. People would come and offer their condolences as if they did not know who had committed this crime. My father is rather old. Two years ago, I lost my sister. My father and mother were not really in good condition; they did not know what to do. It was only me and some others who would advice me. They would say, “Do not do this. If you make a wrong move, it would not be good for your nephew or your future.” I was simply confused; I did not know what they were talking about.
They (those who came to our house and wanted the ceremonies to be held in a normal way) would come in plainclothes. They would come and say what they wanted to say. They would not answer as to who they were and to which organization they belonged. They would just say what they wanted to say and would go away. Two plainclothes young men came and asked us to file a complaint. They wanted to declare (my brother) a martyr. I did not comply. I said, “My brother is not a shahid; he was not a Basiji so he could not be designated as a shahid. You killed him, and now you want to do this and that for him.” He replied, “How do you know?” I could not say anything because I really did not know what had happened, how it had happened, who had killed him. I really did not know anything at all.
They contacted us the next week from the IRGC and forced us to agree to give a TV interview. They said, “You must give an interview and say that you want the Judiciary to pursue the matter; that you want Mr. Raisi to rectify the wrong done to you.” The interview was supposed to be broadcast from the TV network of our city. Of course, it was forced upon us. We said we will not give any interview. They threatened us; they said that we must give an interview otherwise there would be trouble for us. They came to our house by force and interviewed me, my father, and my maternal uncle. They said, “You must say that your brother was killed, that you want the Judiciary to pursue the matter through legal channels and have it decided by a court.” We were supposed to say exactly whatever they had told us to say. Ultimately, however, that interview was not broadcast.
They offered to pay blood-money to us. They said that if he (my brother) is declared a shahid, his blood-money would be paid. I think they had told two hundred million toman (blood-money) to my father. I was not at home. My father said, “Someone came and offered to pay two hundred million toman if he (My brother) is declared shahid, if I say that he was a passer-by, if I say he was a Basiji. I did not allow this.”
I was thinking of pursuing the matter myself and file a complaint about the killing of my brother. I wanted to hire a lawyer. But the cost is too high. We do not have the financial ability to hire a lawyer.
My father called for justice last year and posted one video on Instagram, he said that he was seeking justice for the blood of his son. For this, he was interrogated two or three times. My brother also spoke to a foreign TV channel; they took him to IRGC and interrogated him.
I did not file a complaint; filing a complaint in Iran is a joke and a fiction. However, I gave interview to foreign press. After that, we received threats a couple of times. They called my father from an unidentified phone number and asked why we had done this. They said that we must not do it and if we do, it will cost us dearly. They phoned me and my brother’s father-in-law from an unidentified phone number and said the same thing, “It will cost you dearly; you should not do it.”
When they came one or two months after November, they took all of Naser’s documents from my father, including his death certificate. They told my father that they needed those documents because of the place where we had buried my brother. They demanded my brother’s documents so they could allow the matter to progress properly. They took away his death certificate, papers related to release (of his body), and things like that. They took it all.
Subsequently, they phoned and said that they would return the documents only if we keep quiet. However, they have not yet returned those documents.