Pooya Bakhtiari, shot in the head and killed by security forces during Iran’s protests on November 16, 2019
Another detailed report has documented the killing of hundreds of civilians by Iran’s security forces in recent protests.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran sets out testimony and evidence in the 66-page “Gunning Them Down: State Violance Against Protesters in Iran”.
The report covers the November 2019 protests, sparked by the Government’s sudden 50% to 200% rise in fuel prices, and January’s demonstration over the Iranian military’s lie that it did not shoot down a Ukrainian jet with 176 passengers and crew.
Amnesty International has already confirmed the killing of at least 304 protesters in November, many of them shot at close range and some while fleeing.
“Gunning Them Down” complements this with first-hand accounts from survivors and eyewitnesses.
“They Aimed at My Son’s Head”
Nahid Shirpisheh, the mother of 27-year-old Pouya Bakhtiari, was just behind him in a protest in Karaj, west of Tehran, on November 16. She told CHRI:
They aimed at my son’s head and deliberately killed him….I thought the bullets were not real and
therefore if any of us got injured, it wouldn’t be a problem.
But to my surprise, the bullets were real and they shot my son in the head, which means they deliberately aimed [to kill].
There cannot be any other reason. They were given orders from above to fire bullets but they had no right to do so.
The family was prevented from mourning at Bakhtiari’s grave, with police arresting people at the cemetery. Bakhtiari’s parents were taken into custody “to prevent plotters from continuing to cause more deaths with the repeat of armed action against the people”.
“God Will Not Forgive This Injustice”
Ebrahim Ketabdar, a shopkeeper and father of two children, was shot in the heart and killed in Karaj on the same day. His mother Sakineh Ahmadi recalled:
They shot a bullet through his heart as soon as he stepped out of his shop with his hands in his pockets. He wasn’t in the protests and had nothing to do with them and yet he was shot….
God will not forgive this injustice. I saw there was an uproar in the street. They were firing bullets and beating up the people.
Beating women. Beating everything around them.
Ketabdar’s body was only released to the family after his family signed a pledge of silence. On the 40th day of his death, the traditional time for memorial, plainclothes agents surrounded relatives at the shopkeeper’s grave.
Rejecting “Blood Money”
Borhan Mansournia, a 28-year-old veterinarian, was shot in the back with the bullet piercing his stomach, as he watched November 16 protests in Kermanshah in western Iran. He passed away two days later, with authorities not mentioning the shooting on his death certificate.
His relatives told CHRI that when they tried to file a judicial complaint, Mansouria’s father was summoned to the Intelligence Ministry. He refused — “If anyone wants to talk to me, he has to come to the mosque and face me among the people” — and the Revolutionary Guards’ intelligence branch finally offered blood money. Mansouria’s father rejected the “extremely disgraceful” gesture, and the Guards’ attempt to declare his son a “martyr” of the protests.
“How Could They Shoot at a Kid?”
Mohammad Dadsetankhah, 15, ws shot and killed as he walked home from high school in Shiraz in central Iran. His sister Ghazal Dadsetankhah said authorities offered to pay his parents blood money but were vague about the cause of death to avoid responsibility.
Why should we care about blood money when our brother has been killed? Let them declare my brother a god or a martyr. Is that going to bring him back to life? M
My brother was only 15 years old. He was in his first year of high school. He was a kid. He wasn’t participating in the protests. Why did they shoot him? We want to know who killed my brother. We want to ask them how could they shoot at a kid?