Family of Marivan Man Found in Dam: “We Are Sure He Died in Detention Under Torture”
*Warning: This article contains details that may be disturbing to some readers.
The family of 25-year-old Ershad Rahmanian, whose body was found in the Garan Dam near the city of Marivan, Kurdistan Province, believes he died under torture in mid-December 2019 after being arrested for allegedly participating in street protests a month earlier.
Opposition sources reported that recent discoveries of other bodies in rivers in Kurdistan and Khuzestan provinces are also linked to state authorities’ repression of protests that broke out across dozens of Iranian cities in November after the government announced a gasoline price hike.
“We are sure he died in detention under torture,” Rahmanian’s cousin Kamyar Ahmadi told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). “Our proof was his body, which we buried with a shattered skull and broken limbs marked with bruises.”
“Plus, he went missing on Sunday, November 17 at the peak of the protests in Marivan,” Ahmadi added.
Following is a transcript of Ahmadi’s statements to CHRI.
His family went looking for him but got no answers. Then they got a call that he was in a prison in [Kurdistan’s capital] Sanandaj. They went to the prison but were told he wasn’t there. Then they got another call to come and identify a body and they went but it wasn’t him.
The security agencies have put so much pressure on the people in Marivan that Ershad’s family was too afraid to talk about him. They were worried that if word got out, his brothers would also get into trouble. We wanted to inform the public, but his parents wouldn’t let us.
The family went to every office and agency to try to get help to find him. They went to the Intelligence Ministry’s offices in Marivan and Sanandaj, as well as the police and detective agencies and the office of Supreme Leader [Ali Khamenei’s] local representative. They looked everywhere and everyone completely denied that he had been detained…
On the morning of December 15, the family was contacted about a local man’s discovery of a body in Garan Dam. Ershad’s brother saw the body and noticed signs of torture. When the father saw Ershad’s shattered skull, he had a heart attack and was hospitalized in the intensive care unit.
There were bruises around Ershad’s neck and on top of his shoulders. His hands and feet were broken, and his skull had been split open. He was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office and an autopsy was performed but the cause of death has not been explained to the family.
On December 16, the body was released for burial. The Medical Examiner’s Office issued no report and the death certificate did not mention a cause of death. It didn’t say he had suffocated or drowned or anything. They told us to come back in four months for an answer.
On the other hand, when the body was being released at the Medical Examiner’s Office, there were security agents there from unknown organizations who told the family they should say Ershad had committed suicide from depression over a failed love affair.
But if you ask anyone, Ershad was always full of energy and smiled all the time. He was an athlete and musician. His dream was to travel the world. He spoke very good English. If he committed suicide, then why did tens of security agents show up at his funeral and prevent people from filming the burial?
Rahmanian had received a bachelor’s degree in emergency medical services in 2018 and was preparing to apply for a master’s degree, his cousin told CHRI.
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.