Name and surname of the witness: Maria Saaedpanah

Gender: Female

The place about which she is testifing: Sanandaj

Type of testimony in court: Public



November 16th, On Saturday, November 16, I went out to take part in the protests. For most people, it was not just to protest against the price of gasoline, people were also angry with the Islamic Republic and, like a gunpowder depot, waiting for a spark to explode onto the street. The goal of the people was to overthrow and protest against the entire system of the Islamic Republic. Gasoline made it much worse.


Between 10:00 and 10:30 on Saturday morning, I went to the three ways intersection of Adab. My sister called and said it is crowded here, get over here. When I arrived at Jalalzadeh Clinic, near the Adab intersection, people had turned off their cars in the middle of the street and all the drivers were sitting on the street. Students of Sanandaj Azad University were also sitting in the middle of the street. They had pitched tents and chanted slogans. Some gas stations and banks in Sanandaj were also on fire.


An hour later I saw people shouting that motorcyclists had come and beaten people, and were breaking all car windows without warning people to leave the area. The windows of many cars were broken. They had police uniforms. They wore black clothes and black motorcycle helmets. They also had weapons and beat people with batons. There were also a series of morality police forces, the ones who deal with the people because of the hijab, they were also on the streets that day attacking people.


We were right in front of the governor’s office in Sanandaj. Some 30 to 40 people came, all wearing masks and covered faces. One of the boys who was there shouted, “They are plainclothesmen, run away.” I saw that the plainclothesmen had their hands in their pockets, they were holding pieces of brick and large rocks in their hands, and all of a sudden they threw those rocks and bricks at us. People fled toward the alleys at the Adab intersection, there I saw two people throwing rocks at the head and neck of a 40-50 year old woman and she fell to the ground.


When I went into the alley, I became short of breath and fell. I was completely unconscious for a minute or two, I heard people saying that tear gas had been thrown into the alley. My eyes were burning, I had never experienced this before. There were others who, like me, fainted from the tear gas. When we felt a little better, we came to the street to collect our cars and I saw that my car had been completely destroyed. The windows were broken, everything, even the tire had been slashed. The plain clothes men who threw the rocks were still there, brutally beating several 17-18 year old boys. My sister was also defending them. We were able to save one or two people. When I went to help save the third person I was hit on the hand, I do not know if it was a hose or a baton. There was a gentleman there, a doctor. He brought a stick in the same alley and splinted my hand with a piece of wood and cloth. My hand was in this condition for a month and a half. I did not go to the doctor either because I was afraid that I would be arrested later.


My sister was beaten on the back with a baton, her body was black and bruised, and I went forward to defend her; they pulled my hair from behind and we could only save our lives. Many young boys aged 15-17 were beaten and arrested. Many were arrested in front of my eyes and taken to the governor’s office, which was two or three meters away.


November 17, On the morning of Sunday, November 17, I went to the street to see in which part of the street the protests were happening.  Hassanabad and Ghafouri Streets were very crowded. There were gunshots in Ghafouri Street, people had opened the doors of their houses so that those who were beaten or injured could go inside. I saw with my own eyes a boy coming down Hassanabad Street, bleeding from his head and putting an old silk handkerchief on his head. He said that they had beaten him badly. He had not been shot, his head was broken though.


When I returned to Hassanabad Street, I saw forces in green clothes, a kind of light green pistachio with glass shields. I saw a lot of plainclothesmen, there were a lot of them dressed in black with helmets, on motorcycles.


That night, at about seven o’clock, I went to Seeroos Street (Enghelabeh Jadeed Street) and Nabovat Square. There was so much tear gas at the gate of the house that I realized something was going on in the street. That is why my sister and I went out together. In Sanandaj, on Nabovat Street and Square, Seeroos Street, there is a tunnel where black-clad forces were stationed and fired at people and fired in the air to disperse them. When I saw the bullets, I was so scared that I threw myself in a pharmacy and saw my sister screaming and falling. My sister was shot with a bullet, the bullet hit her in the knee, she was in so much pain that three or four people were dragging her to the pharmacy, they dragged my sister to the pharmacy and said that the bullet was a warning, you will get well. The scar still looks like a stain on her body.


I saw some people who were shot with plastic bullets, I did not see the bullets hit anyone directly, but later I heard that people in the city were wounded by bullets. They fired a lot of bullets. On the same day, many bullets were fired at Nabovat Square. I also saw a gentleman running towards the 11-meter street. He was shot in the back and two of his friends were holding his hands, everyone was shouting and saying they had been shot. I do not remember what the bullet type was, and of course I did not know the bullet at all. A lady was also shot whom I think was not even a protester, she was just a pedestrian.


My mother said at night that she had no news of my 16 year old nephew living with her. He left at noon and had not returned. We went and looked around some police stations, he was not there. A friend of ours, who worked at a police station in Sanandaj, confidentially mentioned that those who were being arrested were being taken to the intelligence security bureau. We went there and I saw with my own eyes that children aged 15-16 were constantly being brought and thrown there. They said my nephew was not there either. At one o’clock in the morning my nephews called, we asked, “Where are you?” He said, “I do not know, I am on the mountain. I am coming down to see where it is.” We said, “What are you doing on the mountain?” He said, “I was coming back from school, I got stuck in the middle of a crowd and I was arrested. I was at the intelligence security forces bureau. We begged them but they did not answer us.” He said, “I was there, then my friends and I got in the car with a few other people, they closed our eyes, we went a few steps away, they told us to open our eyes.” He said they they were told, by the security forces, that security forces would release you on the condition that they make donkey braying sounds. They also made us (the nephew) promise never to take part in any protests under any circumstances and handed them a white paper and they each signed them. Then they had beaten him and slapped him in the ear. A quarter of an hour after coming down from the mountain, he said, “I am just behind Towhid Hospital,” He came home by himself.