Two years after blood was spilled on Iran’s streets, a group of 6 internationally renowned lawyers sat on a panel in London to hear the repressed cries of hundreds. For over two years, those involved in the November 2019 protests, that began due to a rise in fuel prices, have been persecuted and repressed. This was the first time victims and their families had had the chance to voice their griefs on an international stage.
Coined the Aban Tribunal after the Iranian calendar month of November, the hearing set afoot on November 10th, 2021. In the first session that lasted 5 days, the Tribunal heard 34 eyewitnesses and 6 experts in the human rights field. They told their accounts of the events that left hundreds, if not thousands, dead, injured, tortured and/or detained, many young men and minors.
The six judges were appointed to review the alleged crimes of 160 officials, all cross-referenced by Counsel. The judgement? Whether Iranian officials, authorities and forces acted in a way that could be defined as crimes against humanity.
The Tribunal began its proceedings with words from the Counsel, who called on the original 133 officials accused to come forward and defend themselves. Of course, they had all ignored the Counsel’s calls to come forward months ago. The accused were then named; among them, Supreme Leader Khamenei, and previous and current presidents, Rouhani and Raisi. With this, the five-day long hearing began.
The popularity of the Tribunal on social media and Iranian TV channels outside Iran drove hundreds more to come forward. Therefore, at the end of the first session, it was decided that a second set of hearings would take place. Both the judges and Counsel felt that these voices needed to be heard and would prove significant to the final judgement. In light of new evidence submitted after the hearing, a further 27 were accused, taking the total to 160.
Beginning from February 4th, 2022, a further 19 witnesses were heard over a 3-day long hearing, also in London. Some included current and former government, judicial and security personnel, including a high-ranking IRGC commander. The Tribunal also accepted testimony from 171 witnesses, 16 of whom testified live.
As many witnesses wished to share confidential and identifying information, doors were closed to the media for parts of these testimonies.
The following is a sequential account of the hearings. Though they reflect the important notes discussed during the hearings, they are summaries, and therefore not comprehensive.
November session, 10th-14th, London
Expert Witness 1, Maryam Foumani
Maryam Foumani, journalist and researcher in the field of human rights, started the first session of Iran Atrocities Tribunal. She has assisted Counsel member, Hamid Sabi, in gathering witness statements.
She spoke about how upwards of 200 witnesses came forward to testify against the Iranian government. The majority of her testimony was spent describing the methodology of their research, such as the public calls made and the way they made sure the identities of all witnesses were protected. Finally, she commended the witnesses on their bravery.
Fact witness 34; Amin Ansarifar
The first fact witness to open the Iran Atrocities Tribunal testified about the town of Behbahan was the father of Farzad Ansarifar, a deceased victim. He was one of a handful of witnesses who had agreed to be named. He said that Farzad left home to see what was happening after hearing gunshots on November 16th when he was shot in the back of the head. The family does not know any other details about his death.
As for the burial process, they were given two hours to bury Farzad, which the witness said was not enough time. They were told to stay quiet and not ‘put on a show’. The families of the deceased in Behbahan were not given the right to hold a proper anniversary ceremony. However, the families were still harassed.
The witness said his daughter had been arrested and detained for a week in Ahwaz Prison after speaking about her brother’s death on social media. They threatened her with a 15-year prison sentence, but no judgement has been passed. His two stepbrothers have also been arrested.
When asked what justice would mean for his family, Mr Ansarifar replied, “knowing who killed my son.”
Expert witness 2, Masih Alinejad
After Amin Ansarifar’s heart wrenching testimony, the Tribunal heard the Iranian-American journalist about her experience reaching out to mothers of victims following the protests. She spoke about the many mothers who reached out to her to have their stories heard. She showed a video of three mothers who told the panel of the aftermath of the atrocities and their mourning.
While recounting her statement, Ms Alinejad asked the Counsel and the Panel to allow a call from Nahid Shirpisheh, the mother of Pouya Bakhtiari who was killed in Karaj. The atmosphere in the room quickly turned as Pouya’s mother cried out in sadness and frustration.
Fact witness 185
The next fact witness was a relative and work colleague of an Imam Jomeh (Friday Prayer Leader). He chose not to disclose the city about which he is testifying for security purposes.
The Imam had told the witness that a group of delinquents were sent out to the streets to suppress protestors with daggers and motorbikes. He said he also heard a commander of the Special Unit in Tehran say that his men would be shooting protestors with assault bullets above the legs.
He then spoke of conditions in prisons. He said there were two types of cells – the first was cold and had the prisoner tied to the door with their hands facing sideways while blindfolded; the second was reminiscent of a tomb and the prisoner would be forced to sleep on it. Many are forced into confessing to untrue charges.
The witness also told the tribunal that prisoners were routinely given medication, such as barbiturates and benzo diazepam. A number of prisoners died of overdoses or the medication reacting badly with their health conditions.
Fact witness 32
The final witness was introduced to the Tribunal as Witness 32, a young woman wearing a headscarf, sunglasses and mask to conceal her identity. Her story resonated with that of many others – her brother was shot and died of a wound to his stomach. The witness said, “They also shot at everyone around him so no one could approach him [to help]. He was in the rain for an hour.” A year and a half after the family lodged a complaint, they were told that the Basij killed him and that they should not pursue it further.
Expert Witness 3, Raha Bahreini, Amnesty International
AI’s Iran researcher, Raha Bahreini, presented the organisation’s research into the protests, particularly how information was verified and how the NGO estimated the death toll. Due to the verification process being very rigorous, AI has estimated a death toll of only 323, though Ms Bahreini admitted to the actual death toll being much higher. She then spoke about the nature of the deaths, and the demographics of those who were shot, including children as young as 12. She concluded her testimony with information about wrongful detention and conditions inside prisons.
Fact witness 366
The witness asked the tribunal not to reveal his name or location and testified before the panel wearing a face covering and sunglasses. The witness had been returning from grocery shopping when he was caught in the middle of the protests. He explained that thousands of people had gathered and police officers were carrying colt guns and Kalashnikovs.
The witness stated that the police began shooting at around 2pm and he himself was shot by a colt then. The bullet travelled from his left arm to his lung and spinal cord, leaving him wheelchair-bound and with severe lung damage. The witness explained that medical staff were apprehensive towards providing care for the wounded and only attended to those injured when prompted by protests from friends and family members.
Fact Witness 128, Mohammad Amin Bahramzehi
Mohammad Amin Bahramzehi appeared in person to give an account of what happened in his village in Baluchestan. He has video evidence of his account that he showed to the panel, where IRGC officers are seen firing machine guns at villagers trying to get to the protests in the city of Rask. He claimed that these protestors were unarmed.
Fact Witness 195
The last witness was a police major in Marivan at the time of the protests. He was given command of around 60 officers and told to control the crowd. He elaborated about the assault weapons used on protestors, who he described as peaceful. He told the panel about his subsequent arrest and 5-year prison sentence for cooperating and sympathising with the protestors.
“Once an order has come from the provincial security council,” Witness 195 said, “it means no one will face any repercussions.”
The witness, when asked whether the protestors had escalated the situation themselves, replied that everyone there had gathered peacefully and were shot arbitrarily.
Expert Witness, Shadi Sadr
Shadi Sadr, the Executive Director of Justice for Iran, one of the Tribunal’s organisers, presented the panel with their methodology and more information about the chains of power that allowed this tragedy to take place. She talked about the methods used to identify the places and times specific events took place, including who the perpetrating forces were. These methods included geolocation and cross-verifying with videos of the same events taken by different people.
Fact Witness 31
Witness 31, who had also concealed his identity, was the brother of a victim shot in the head in the last few hours of November 15th. He had been a bystander who was attending to a client for work.
The witness spoke about the aftermath and the difficulty in obtaining his brothers body and performing the burial. He told the panel that the authorities were apprehensive about returning the body to the family and refused to carry out an autopsy to determine what weapon killed him. He also said they were forced to bury his brother at night, under the supervision of security forces.
Fact Witness 109
The next witness was a medical professional in an ICU during the protests. He witnessed many injured people being admitted and security agents patrolling the hospital. They were preventing those who had been injured in the protests from being seen by doctors, which was unusual.
Expert Witness, Bahar Saba
Bahar Saba is an independent researcher on Iran human rights and was a researcher at Amnesty International in November 2019. She spent most of her testimony speaking about the weapons and defences used against protestors by security forces. These ranged from pellet guns to water cannons to assault guns.
She concluded that, “there is a very clear pattern of the intentional use of lethal weapons.”
Witness 17, Kamyar Ahmadi
Mr Ahmadi testified to the Tribunal in person, having travelled from Germany. He is a family member of Ershad Rahmanian who was killed during the protests in Marivan. He had gone out to the bank and shortly became unreachable. His body was found by a river a few weeks later. The witness showed the panel pictures of the gruesome discovery, where it is clear that Ershad had suffered trauma to the head and was bruised elsewhere on his body, including his wrists.
When approached, the authorities threatened the family and told them that political groups had killed Ershad. They were not given any retribution for their loss. Instead, he was buried outside Marivan, against the wishes of his family.
Fact Witness 399
Witness 399 was the head of a Special Forces unit who were sent out to suppress protestors. He confirmed that in all provinces, they were given orders to send out criminals into the crowds dressed in everyday clothing to make it look like a riot. They were also armed with explosive ammunition, aimed at killing protestors.
Due to security concerns, the rest of his testimony will go to panel privately.
Fact Witness 227
The witness said protests were peaceful as far as he could see until the IRGC began shooting at people. Among the scenes of shooting, he saw an old man who had been a passer-by get shot. The witness was then arrested by plainclothes men – cuffed, blindfolded and beaten.
He described being put under psychological torture and being made to confess to acts he had not committed. He was denied medical care and beaten in the cold while completely naked. Finally, he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but is yet to be summoned to prison.
Fact Witness 256
The next witness who contacted the tribunal online testified about the security council’s decision to suppress protestors in Bushehr, on November 15th or 16th.
He said the meeting was attended by (Abdolkarim) Garavand, the Governor of Bushahr, Abbas Barzgarzadeh, the deputy governor, (Mehrdad) Sotoudeh, the Governorate’s deputy director for development, Saeed Zarrinfar, the deputy director for economy and a former interrogator of the Intelligence Department, (Majid) Khorshidi, the political deputy director of the Governorate, the former chief of Police for Bushehr, and a number of others from the Intelligence Department.
The witness said that at the meeting, it was decided to suppress the protests and that the anti-riot Special Unit should intervene. He said as far as he knows, the Unit and the police were given full authority to deal with protestors as they deemed fit.
Fact Witness 175, Sohbatollah Omidi
This witness was also a bullet wound victim who also witnessed the injuries and deaths of others in Kermanshah. He was at work when the shooting started around 10am on November 16th. He testified to seeing Basiji soldiers set buildings on fire, an act that has been blamed on ‘rioters’ by the Islamic Republic.
“I even saw one person who was hit in the eye. Later his eye was removed. When I
made inquiries about him later on, I learned that 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.” The witness spoke about deaths of protesters and bystanders by pellet guns.
The witness was captured by the Intelligence Department after having tried to escape Iran. His possessions and money were expropriated and was subsequently tortured after refusing to give a false televised confession. After a trial that only lasted ten minutes, he was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in absentia.
Expert Witness, Robert Heinsch
Professor Heinsch of Leiden University who was involved in drafting a communication to the International Criminal Court on the November 2019 atrocities opened the fourth day of the hearing. He said their research revolved around witness testimonies and using those, they have concluded that lethal forces was used with intent and that the death toll reported by AI is likely far lower than the actual number.
Fact Witness 173, Soheil Abdi
Fact witness 173 chose to go by his real name, Mr Abdi. He was a protestor in Shariyar and confirmed that the protests had been peaceful until security forces began shooting. He was shot in the leg in close range to another person who was also shot and was carried into a car by other protestors and bystanders. He does not know the fate of the other person. The witness showed the panel a video of the incident. It is clear that there was no imminent threat to the shooter and he was standing at very close range.
He was seen by a doctor in his home as hospitals were being patrolled by security forces. He emphasised that he had no weapons and posed no threat.
Fact Witness 28
The witness was the sister of a deceased victim who had participated in several protests. The family were informed of her brother’s death when a stranger picked up his phone and told them he had been shot.
She said when they arrived at the hospital, they saw him on a stretcher and were told he had died upon arrival. The witness elaborated that her mother and sister had tried very hard to have the body of her brother returned to them. The Governorate told them that they were not allowed to talk to media or give interviews before they were given the body.
She said the bullet had gone through his chest and gone all the way through. Parts of his skull were also missing.
They were offered martyr status and refused – Mr Sabi of the Counsel explained to the Tribunal that martyr status in Iran means someone has died for Islam, which is why many families refused it.
Fact Witness 05
He was eyewitness to the death of three people in Mishkin Dasht, as well as the use of assault weapons against protestors. He identified the commander, Nouri, as shooting at protestors and bystanders, including children, with pellet guns and Kalashnikovs.
He told the panel that those who went to the hospital for their injuries were immediately taken by guards. Some including Ali Hamedani died at home for fear of being arrested at the hospital.
He also stated that besides assault rifles, guards and security forces would fire paintballs at protestors to identify them and arrest them or kill them.
“I’m sorry to the families of the victims. The reason why I’m masked is because if I took it off, I would be arrested within 15 minutes,” he explained, apologetically.
Fact Witness 255
This witness was arrested at the protests and taken to a detention centre where he was tortured. He was taken to a dirty cell where he was in solitary confinement for 18 days. During those days, he was taken for interrogation and was demanded to testify that he had been a spy for Israel or the US. The witness was whipped on multiple occasions all over his body, including his eye where he has incurred permanent damage. With great difficulty, he told the panel that the interrogators wrapped wet cloths around his knees and electrocuted him. He was also threatened with rape.
Expert Witness, Mohammad Nayyeri
Dr Nayyeri is a human rights researcher, lawyer and law professor at the University of Kent. He presented the panel with information about Iran’s laws on freedom of expression and assembly. He explained how these laws were used to suppress protestors, clarifying that the IRGC, Basij and intelligence forces have equal power to arrest protestors. Judicial authorities also always agree with the security forces’ demands.
Fact Witness 110, Fatemeh Khoshrou
This witness was arrested in Khorramabad during the protests. She was injured and subjected to sexual torture and blackmail after her arrest due to her fiancé’s affiliation with the US armed forces.
She said after she was arrested amid the early stages of the protests, she was beaten and blinded and taken to a cold room by heavily armed officers. She and four other women were forced to undress in front of two female officers who proceeded to inspect their bodies, even when they were vocally uncomfortable with it. She said they were beaten if they protested.
The witness stated that they were taken to the Sepah detention centre in Khorramabad where they were interrogated multiple times a day, from morning until sunset. She said they were also refused medical care and were not able to contact their families until 20 days after their arrest. The conditions of the prison were also unseemly – there were no beds available so they had to sleep on the floor. They were often threatened with rape and feared for each other every time they were taken for interrogation.
The witness was then transferred to Evin Prison in Tehran and placed in solitary confinement in detention center 2A which Sepah controlled. She confessed to feeling seriously suicidal during her solitary confinement. She was always asked to give a confession but said she did not know what she would confess to.
She told the tribunal that one morning, a female guard took her to a room and the interrogator told her that she is being freed. The female guard took her clothes and left, allegedly to bring her her own possessions. Soon, she realised that the room did not have any CCTV cameras contrary to other rooms in the detention center. She said five men entered the room and began touching her inappropriately. The interrogator was commanding them in what to do and where to touch.
She said he threatened to send in five more men after them. She stated that she began begging him and telling the interrogator that she would do what he wanted.
She was told to lure her fiancé to Turkey in order to kidnap him and bring him to Iran. The witness said they had accused her of working with the US forces to create disturbances in Iran and that she had distributed money to bring people to the streets. She said she gave a false confession under duress and fear of rape.
Nine months after she was released, the witness was sent to Turkey to lure her fiancé. She was given a sentence of one year and 74 lashes in absentia. She says her parents have been threatened and summoned to the detention center repeatedly. She also still receives threats from security forces in Iran.
Fact witness 179
The witness testified about Behbahan. He saw six protestors die at the hand of Basij forces carrying AK-47s. He said the forces fired shots recklessly. The witness testified to attempting to help those who had been injured or injured and eventually died.
The witness also identified some perpetrators in front of the panel, such as Mashhadinejad who was part of the Basij force, shooting people at close range. He named Mohammad Dehdashti, a second lieutenant firing tear gas, and Mohammad Rasoulan, chief of Sepah Intelligence who threatened families of the deceased.
With great conviction, Witness 179 begged those watching and attending the Tribunal to be the voice of those who can’t speak for themselves. He talked about Mr Ghanabati and Mr Hashamdar, both poverty-ridden men who had lost their lives while trying to save those of others.
Fact witness 183
This witness was a bystander from Shiraz who testified about protestors and bystanders being shot and treated violently. She stated that she witnessed many people being shot by the authorities, some of whom were teenagers. She told the panel that those who were injured were rounded up by Basij soldiers and taken away.
She also said that CCTV footage from the surrounding areas was destroyed by security forces.
Fact Witness 232
The witness was a doctor who treated those injured in the protests. He has withheld his identity for security reasons. He testified to having seen both protestors and bystanders be killed by Kalashnikov bullets.
The witness explained that he created a triage for patients in his own home and treated them with the limited medical resources he had at hand. He said he removed both pellets and assault bullets.
The witness told the judges that those who were admitted to hospital for their injuries were surveilled by security forces. He stated that 170 dead bodies were brought to their hospital in two days.
Fact Witness 26
Witness 26 spoke about her nephew’s detention and severe torture. He was arrested at the protests and taken to a detention centre where he was placed in an unhygienic cell. The inmates did not have access to a sink and were made to sleep on the ground. She says he was tortured by electrocution and made to confess to rioting and destroying property. He was whipped with electrical cables.
When released, he was made to live in exile with no contact with his family.
Fact Witness 125, Aram Mardoukhi
The witness testified about the protests at Sanandaj. He was injured in the protests himself, as well as being witness to the shootings and other acts of violence towards the public and protestors.
He explained that he attended the protests on November 16th and 17th. Mardoukhi talked about the violence from the police, Sepah and Special Unit, such as water cannons that sprayed hot water and plainclothes men who would venture into the crowd and stab protestors.
“They would beat up anyone they got hold of with a very thick chain with the intent to kill. They hit on the head and face of people to disable and to kill them.” The witness said.
He also witnessed a teenage boy being pushed off a wall and falling to a probable death. Mardoukhi said that he heard the young man was as good as dead. The witness explained that the crackdown on the protestors was so brutal, protestors decided it would be best to stop the demonstrations before more people died.
After being asked why he had decided to testify despite the dangers to his family, he replied, “This was my responsibility to fight against the blood that was shed and the mothers who were left grieving.”
Fact Witness 26
Witness 26 testified to having witnessed scenes of violence. She saw banks and other public property being burned down but was sure it was not the fault of the protestors. She fled the scene when she saw assault weapons and arbitrary shooting.
Fact Witness 119
He was witness to shootings and scenes of violence, including seeing security and Basij forces use assault weapons and witnessing an innocent 16 year old girl shot. He describes a group of people setting fire to banks – nothing was done to stop them, and security forces took no action. After this, the protests turned violent.
In response to a question on whether the protestors were armed, the witness replied that some had Molotov cocktails in their hands. Though, he was not sure if they were ordinary protestors or plainclothes men. He said he is sure banks were burnt down by the authorities, because the protests were peaceful up until them. He believed this gave security forces the excuse to attack people with assault weapons
Yet again, Witness 119 spoke about denial of medical care and injured protestors and bystanders being arrested at hospitals upon release. This seems to be a theme across all regions of Iran.
Fact witness 182
This witness had been privy to scenes of violence and was attacked with tear gas. She said she was also threatened to be shot by a plainclothes officer. She affirmed that the protests were peaceful and the protestors did not incite violence.
Fact Witness 245
This witness was from Baharestan, Tehran, and had been injured and arrested at the protests. He testified to having seen security forces in black uniform that had ‘Special Unit’ printed on them.
The witness stated that they set a nearby bank on fire as to frame the ‘rioters’ for the arson. He had asked one of the officers to call the fire brigade, but he had refused, as if he wanted the protests to continue.
The witness testified to having seen about ten guards on the rooftops and walls of the CID and had their weapons aimed at the crowd. They started off shooting people below the waist but by the second day (17th November), the crackdown had become more violent. He said ambulances would not pick up the injured. In fact, if an injured victim was taken to hospital, they would be arrested.
“Their gunshots were so intense that the frightened children inside houses would start crying. I heard gunshots until it grew dark.” He told the tribunal.
“I’m ashamed of myself for sitting here in front of you with my face covered up,” the witness said in clear distress.
Fact Witness 367
Witness 367 was a contractor for the IRGC when the protests broke out. He and 30 other men were gathered and told to disperse the crowd, even though they were not trained to do so. He said this command later changed to ‘military charge.’ After they had been ordered to shoot to kill, the witness and some others from his group tried to escape and disobeyed orders. He was later fired and now resides in Switzerland.
Fact Witness 015, Jamshid Ariyana
The witness was a family member of Borhan Mansournia, a killed victim of the protests in Marivan. Borhan was participating in the protests on November 16th when he was shot by the police.
The witness told the tribunal that in the hours before he died, he was able to call his family and tell them the circumstances of this incident, namely the government organisation who had shot him and that he was shot from the back at close range.
Although an ambulance was called for him, it came late, and the hospital refused to admit him. Borhan was taken to Taleghani hospital where they accepted him reluctantly but did not treat him appropriately. Borhan died soon after.
The witness said the family have since tried to file complaints against the hospital and Dr Mohammad Mehdi Shakeri.
The authorities have also tried to silence the family by offering the title of martyr to Borhan.
Fact Witness 303
Witness 303 was both injured and witnessed people being shot. He was taken to a detention centre where he was severely beaten. Among those who had been transferred to the detention centre were young teenage boys, aged 13-15. He testified to seeing teenagers being sexually abused and humiliated in front of the others by guards.
He said he was put into solitary confinement in an unhygienic cell, denied medical care and beaten severely. He was also touched inappropriately against his will.
Fact Witness 337
“Even though I saw war, this is the worst thing I’ve ever witnessed. I can’t believe a helicopter set gunfire on a 15-year-old boy,” Witness 29 spoke of the situation in Sadra. He was witness to protestors and passers-by being shot, especially a young man who was shot next to him and bled out due to medical neglect. He testified to having seen security forces break the windows of residential homes and throw tear gas inside. He said there were many babies and young children in those houses who suffered from breathing issues.
The panel gave their closing address after a gruelling five days of tragic testimonies. Chair Wayne Jordash QC confirmed that there is enough evidence to say that the Islamic Republic subjected protestors to grave crimes, including killing. To end the Tribunal, he encouraged other witnesses to come forward.
February Session, 4th-6th, London
Fact witness 82, Tahereh Bajravani
The witness was the wife of Ali Fouthi, a deceased victim. On November 16th, Ali Fotouhi and his friends were outside when the protests started in Shahr-e Qods, on a day off from work. They talked on the phone prior to his transfer to hospital and he reassured her that people were peaceful and only chanting. He had said that 20-30 masked men were smashing windows. He told her to come join them, but she couldn’t reach him by the time she had left.
When the witness arrived in the ER, her husband, Ali, was left unattended. He was unresponsive and had a bullet wound in his side. She asked after a doctor for half an hour until one told her they couldn’t do anything for him. She emphasised that no medical staff tried to help him even though he was still breathing.
She’s been threatened for two years, especially on social media. She told the panel that she receives messages from fake accounts saying she’s speaking too much about her husband.
Fact Witness 503
Witness 503 testified in person with his face covered to protect his identity. He apologised to the victims and their families for this. He said he wanted to commemorate his statement to those who were killed in Jarrahi (Neizar), Mahshahr, south of Iran.
The witness was involved in the peaceful protests from November 15th. Residents of Jarrahi, most of whom are Arab, blocked roads to protest the rise in fuel prices, poverty and unemployment. They were told to leave but refused.
On the 18th, security forces opened fire. The witness testifies to having seen Special Unit and Basij using assault weapons – they were only about 100m away from the protestors. As soon as they opened fire, people who had gathered in Jarrahi square escaped to the marshes where they were trapped and shot. The shooting began at 9.40am and continued until 4pm.
The witness showed a video where Special Unit forces are visible bearing weapons. He said this was taken just as they began to shoot. The witness had a list of everyone who was killed in this area. He read their names to the Tribunal but said many families are unwilling to talk due to threats, and many more are expected to have died.
Witness 437: Fatemeh Davand
Fatemeh Dadvand under her own identity. She was arrested in Bukan, West Azerbaijan, and brutally arrested, detained and sexually harassed, and was made to give a forced confession, presumably under torture.
At the time of the protests, she gave a speech to the protestors about her own economic situation, rising rent and hardships. She said people around her blocked her off from security forces who were trying to pull her away and people started chanting, ‘Death to the Dictator.’ She was shot in the altercation.
Her 14-year-old son was later told that she had been killed and was then beaten with a baton. She was taken by intelligence officers to give a forced confession where she was threatened until she submitted. Mrs Dadvand was told to undress in a room with a camera, she kept refusing but did not have another choice.
Around 4-5 officers came into her room at night. Fearing rape, Mrs Dadvand agreed to giving a confession. She was framed as an agent for the US and UK, and her ‘confession’ was televised on state TV. She said answered their questions for fear of her son’s wellbeing. She was then taken to prison where she was for 4 months.
Mrs Dadvand left Iran for Turkey as soon as she was released from her ankle cuff.
Fact Witness 407
Witness 407 was a former judicial official. Although he was outside Iran at the time, he heard a lot about the government’s conduct during and after the protests from his former colleagues. He affirmed that almost all of the victims, whether dead, injured or imprisoned, were not criminals and were only taking part in peaceful protests. He said innocent people were treated like criminals for crimes they hadn’t done. The witness’s colleagues told him that provincial governments, including local IRGC forces, went into meetings at the beginning of the protests. They said they were carrying out government orders. This included the judiciary. Protestors’ rights were not respected, including the right to a lawyer for those who had been arrested. IRGC officers were given the go-ahead to do what they pleased, under the pretence that those they’d arrested were rioters.
Fact Witness 86, Mohammad Mehdi Shahbazifar
Witness 86 testified about the death of his sister, Ameneh Shahbazifar in Malard(Tehran Province). She had gone out to buy medicine for her daughter when she saw a wounded man on the street during the protests. She was shot while trying to help him. The family were led astray when they looked for her body. They were made to go back and forth between the hospital and the forensics department where they were threatened and told to not hold a ceremony.
Fact Witness 451
Witness 451 was an ambulance driver involved in moving injured and deceased bodies from hospitals to morgues and cemeteries.
He said as soon as security forces began shooting, the protests turned into a war zone. He talked about the invasion of hospitals by security forces – officers were looking for anyone who had come in with bullet wounds and injuries. Their IDs were taken and those who were not dead yet were arrested after receiving basic treatment. When he was transferring the bodies to morgues and cemeteries, security forces would stop him and take the bullets out of their bodies so that they could not be held responsible. Families who tried to collect their loved ones’ bodies were threatened and made to agree that they would not hold any ceremonies, talk to the media or mourn in any way.
Fact Witness 84
Witness 84 was the mother of a victim who underwent torture and was later deceased.
He was participating in the protests when he was arrested on November 18th and released with visible marks of torture. He committed suicide a few days later.
After release, he told the witness what he had seen in the protests and the detention centre before he passed. He said plainclothes men were causing a lot of chaos and ordering officers to shoot. Others were setting fire to banks and other buildings. He was not only subjected to torture and medical negligence, but also witnessed the torture of others. He told his mother that the officers in the IRGC detention centre set three men on fire while they were still alive, and others were not given any medical treatment.
Witness 84 took her son to another location in fear of arrest, but he committed suicide from the psychological trauma he had undergone a few days later. Nothing about torture was said in his death certificate.
Fact Witness 426, Abubakr Mehrabani
The witness was the uncle of Osman Naderi, one of those killed in the November 2019 protests in Marivan. Osman, 28 years old, came from a poor family and was a labourer. The dire economic situation had had a big impact on his family, which was the reason for his protest. His 9-year-old child is now left fatherless.
He was shot in the head within a 5-meter distance but did not make it to a hospital and died. The witness said 11 people were killed in Marivan and stressed that these were protestors, not rioters. Osman was also named a rioter.
They could not find Osman or what happened to him after his death. The witness’s sister asked after him and was given different information. They were handed his body two days later, threatened and told not to hold any ceremonies.
Fact Witness 458
Witness 458 is part of a special group called the Imam Ali Battalion, a section of the Basij. He was coerced into joining the Basij. He said that many of those in the Battalion were criminals who had hard crimes, such as rape, on their records. Others were from low economic backgrounds.
On November 16th, the Battalion was called in. He said the majority of Basij recruits there were children, including a few under 15 and as young as 10. They were not allowed to call home or contact anyone.
He said their leaders had prepared for protests. They were given orders to find the protests’ leaders and beat them until they could not breathe, and then to arrest them. He confirmed the use of pellet guns and tear gas. He himself was stuck in a space where he was attacked with tear gas.
Basij and IRGC forces would break doors of banks and fill them with petrol to set them on fire. They made sure to break doors so that the inside would burn. The witness was told that the reason for the arson was so that security forces could frame protestors as rioters and beat and arrest them with reason. They were told to shoot at protestors, even the upper body. They were armed with Kalashnikovs, pellet guns and tear gas. They began shooting and many were made fatally wounded.
The witness saw at least 4 people who died from bullets to the head. He believes many could have survived if they’d been taken to hospitals, but they were arrested and kept from receiving urgent treatment. Not only that, but many were beaten and tortured while suffering from wounds to their abdomens, backs and legs.
Fact Witness 83, Ali Rezaei
Witness 83 was the brother of Naser Rezaei who was killed in the protests in Karaj. The witness was contacted on November 17th by a stranger who told him Naser had been shot and was being taken to hospital. This exchange was recorded and heard at the Tribunal.
When Naser’s body was handed to their family, they were told not to hold any funeral ceremonies and to not talk to anybody about his death. He said they were kept from performing traditional Kurdish funeral rites.
Fact Witness 504
The witness refused to testify due to security concerns but has submitted his testimony and evidence from eye hospitals around Iran. He had agreed to his testimony being presented to the Tribunal even after refusing to give it himself. The evidence included the personal details of those admitted to these hospitals between November 14th-17th.
Some statistics from these documents:
-Over 70 patients were admitted with injuries as a result of pellets to the eye and were operated on.
-Of the 70, 7 were under 18. Notably, one was 14 and another was 15 years old.
-Over 50% lost sight in one or both eyes after treatment.
-Of these 70 people, 7% were female and 93% were male.
– 3.5% were admitted on the 14th, 24% on the 15th, 52% on the 16th, and 18% on the 17th.
Fact Witness 80
Witness 80 was the mother of an 18-year-old who was killed in the protests. Their family were strong believers in Islam and he was a member of Basij forces.
She was contacted by a stranger saying he had been shot and taken to hospital. She searched every hospital and could not find him, “dead or alive.” Finally, she was told that he had been shot in the head and was given his documents with no respect. She was met with a lot of challenges when trying to collect his body. They told her if they find that they can’t hand his body over, they will take him out of the ground.
A few days later, they were told that he was killed by terrorists. She believes that in the autopsy, his organs were taken out and never put back in. The officials told her he was an organ donor, but she refuses to believe this because she never saw his organ donor card or heard about it from him. She was never shown the card by officials.
Fact Witness 362
Witness 362 testified about the disappearance of two people after they released information about the crimes committed by the state in the protests. He was involved in collecting information but went into hiding after their disappearance. His house was raided after going into hiding and three of his family members were arrested. One of them attempted suicide several times because of the conditions and experiences in prison. The witness could not complete his testimony publicly due to security risks.
Fact Witness 494, Alireza Barekati
Witness 494 was Alireza Barekati, who testified openly and in-person about his friend, Ali Hosseini, who was 21 when he was killed in Meshkindasht.
He was notified by another friend that Ali was shot in the early afternoon. He lost his life later that night. His body was held and not given to his family until 8 days after his death. Mr Barekati explained that Ali’s family was not well-off, and they were told that they needed to pay for the bullet that was in his body.
Fact Witness 436
The witness was shot in his side and was also witness to the deaths of others at the hands of security forces, including a 14-year-old girl. Officers were shooting arbitrarily, and he saw them shoot a young woman and her baby. He was taken to hospital by someone in their personal car.
The witness was operated on for damage to his abdomen and pelvis, and lost part of his intestines. He was not allowed to heal and was arrested by the IRGC or Basij three days later. He was kept in detention for over a month and put under severe torture, including sexual assault. They accused him of being a spy, a terrorist for the west and of leading the protests.
Fact Witness 600
Witness 600 was introduced as a former senior IRGC officer who had contacted the Tribunal the day prior. He was responsible for collecting information during the protests and witnessed arrests and interrogations. He was also involved in arresting protestors.
He testified to the IRGC knowing of the change in fuel prices the week prior to the protests – they were told to prepare in case of violence and riots. On the second day of the protests, IRGC forces were given prerogative to shoot whenever they saw fit. No officers were made to report or record who they shot and with which weapons, which is a breach in usual procedure. Officers were given weapons with no record, even the lowest ranking officers. They were also told to arrest protestors and destroy property.
The witness claimed that Lebanese and Syrian forces were used to supplement Iran’s own forces in November 2019, according to orders given by the Supreme Leader, Khamenei. He confirmed that the order of shoot to kill was given by the office of the Supreme Leader. Children were also given weapons and used by Basij forces.
He testified to having made arrests arbitrarily, not caring whether those arrested were wounded or not. Detention centres were in deplorable conditions. The witness saw the corpses of protestors and the threats made to families of victims. He gave the example of someone who hid their child’s body in the freezer so that the family could bury him themselves.
The witness was sure that a huge number of people were arrested, around 7,000-8,000 in Tehran alone. He also believed that the IRGC had at least 400 bodies in its possession, excluding those given over to families.
Fact Witnesses 422 & 427, Maria and Zahra Saedpanah
These witnesses were sisters and testified together in person. They were witness to the deaths of several people in Sanandaj and submitted video evidence to Counsel.
Masked individuals were dispersed in the crowd and began throwing large rocks and bricks at protestors. They saw an elderly woman be hit in the head and fall to the ground. They escaped but were then attacked by tear gas. Witness 422 passed out momentarily because of that. Witness 422 said how they were both begging security forces to stop hitting people. She says she turned and saw her sister being beaten by batons. She injured her hand. A doctor there told her she had probably broken her hand and needed medical attention. She did not seek treatment out of fear of arrest.
Witness 427 said their nephew, who was under 18, was arrested on the second day. They were looking for him when she saw security forces throwing tear gas into narrow alleys. She saw about a hundred motorcycles pass and managed to run away. She was intercepted by tear gas thrown at her and the sound of gunfire. She was taken into a nearby house where the homeowners helped her. She then returned home and noticed a pellet wound.
Fact Witness 418
Witness 418 worked as a police officer in the NAJA forces in a provincial city on the border of Iran. He acted as a sniper in protests and left the forces shortly after. He says thousands of bullets were fired in one day, but that NAJA did not have an order to shoot, only air shots. Only the IRGC and Basij were allowed to shoot at protestors.
Around 14-15 people died on that first day in the undisclosed city. When they returned to headquarters, the witness saw around 50 people in handcuffs, aged 15 to 45. A lot of them had visible injuries. When he asked them what their crimes were, they said they hadn’t even stepped a foot outside of their houses that day.
Fact Witness 499
Witness 499 was witness to the protests in Sanandaj. People started blocking roads with their cars. Security forces began beating anyone who left their car, so protestors rerouted to another part of Sanandaj. He saw security forces shoot with assault weapons, recognising Kalashnikovs and shotguns. They were shot arbitrarily, whether they were protesting or not. The witness saw Kaveh Veysani, one of the victims, get killed by security forces. They also threatened Veysani’s parents and told them to forcibly confess that his death was due to Kurdish political groups on camera.
Fact Witness 601
Wwitness 601 was part of the security forces that repressed protestors in November 2019. He was clad in his NAJA uniform when he attended the Tribunal. They were informed of the rise in fuel prices on November 13th, were armed and told to guard petrol stations.
At 8pm, he was told to hurry and change into his uniform. He was given a Kalashnikov with ammunition and was told to stand on the rooftop and shoot anyone who approached. He saw about 15 people covered in blood and left by a doorstep. He left after seeing this scene.
He was later taken into interrogation and asked why he didn’t shoot and didn’t obey orders. He was made to sign a document without knowing what it was.
He said no protestors were armed. They were only throwing stones they’d picked up from the streets. They set two tyres on fire, but nothing else. Police was not in any danger from the protestors.