“They Told Us to Say He Had Died in an Accident,” Says Mother of Man Slain in Shiraz Protests
The mother of Alireza Anjavi, who died after being shot in the forehead on November 16, 2019, as the authorities repressed protests in the city of Shiraz, Fars Province informed the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) that the authorities told her that her son had been detained and would soon be freed before calling her to identify his body in the morgue.
Anjavi’s family was also pressured to falsely say he had died in an accident when they were retrieving his body, according to his mother, Noushin Mahmoudi.
Following is a transcript of Mahmoudi’s statements to CHRI.
My son had an architectural supply store in front of the Islamic Azad University on Sadra St. On November 16 we had no idea there was a protest going on or else we wouldn’t have let him go out.
When he got to his store, he called us and said he’s coming back home. Our house is on Mowlana St. and along the way there were some protests. We could hear bullet sounds and machine-gun fire from our house. We could also see smoke and fire.
I called Alireza again and told him to come home as soon as possible. But after that he didn’t answer his phone… I didn’t think they had killed him. I thought maybe he had been arrested. I looked for him for a week with the help of relatives and acquaintances.
Police detectives told me he had been arrested with a group of people who had become emotional and joined the protest but he was well and would be freed at the end of the week. I waited but Alireza didn’t come home.
On November 23 I got a call from the detectives who asked me to come over and show some identification papers. They asked me what clothes Alireza had been wearing. Then they told me to go to the Medical Examiner’s Office, but I didn’t go. I thought maybe the authorities were looking for a missing person. But that evening my brother-in-law showed me a photo and said it was my [dead] son.
On November 25 we got a call [from the Medical Examiner’s Office] telling us to come and take his body. When I got there, I saw he had been shot in the forehead.
We wanted to bury him in the Darolrahmeh Cemetery in Shiraz, where his father and brothers were laid to rest. But the authorities didn’t allow it and said we had to bury him in the outskirts of the city in the Golzar Deynakan or Qasre Qomsheh cemeteries.
We had no choice other than to accept the order and buried him in Golzar Deynakan. They delivered the body and told us to bury him the same day without making any trouble. They didn’t ask for any money but insisted that we shouldn’t make a lot of noise at the funeral and not to bring too many people.
The agents carried out all the procedures and dug the grave and didn’t let anyone see the body. They also prayed for him and recited from the Quran.
When we went to pick up my son’s body, they told us to say he had died in an accident after leaving the house. But the death certificate said he had died from being struck by a bullet. Then the detectives called and asked us to come and file a complaint. They knew my son was innocent and hadn’t done anything. They said we could get legal counsel from the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs to follow up on the case because Alireza’s father had been a veteran and was martyred many years ago.
I will not forgive my son’s killers. Blood money means nothing to me. I want the person responsible to be punished for what he did.
Alireza was a very good son. Everyone loved him. He was my only living son. I had two other sons who died from physical disabilities. Alireza was my whole life. I want to catch his killer.
According to Amnesty International, at least 304 people were killed in Iran between November 15-18, 2019, after protests in response to a sudden gasoline price hike erupted in dozens of cities throughout the country. Thousands were also injured and arrested, including children as young as 15.
Read this article in Persian.