In an impassioned plea to top UN officials, the father of Pouya Bakhtiyari, who was one of hundreds of demonstrators shot and killed by Iranian security forces during the protests that swept through Iran in November 2019, called on the UN to end the “sterile exchanges” with the Iranian authorities and establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and document the government’s “lethal repression” against the protesters.
Pouya Bakhtiyari, 27, was shot in the head and killed on November 16, 2019, minutes after he joined a protest in the streets of Karaj, a city west of Tehran.
The indiscriminate firing of live ammunition by security forces at unarmed civilians was widely documented by citizen journalists and human rights organizations. Hundreds of protesters and bystanders, including women and children, were reliably reported to be killed. The authorities have provided no information on those killed nor has there been any independent investigation into the state’s actions.
In the letter, dated May 29, 2020, the grieving father, Manouchehr Bakhtiyari, describes the harrowing account that followed his son’s death. The letter details:
* The struggle to obtain son’s body from the hospital: “We had to defy Karaj’s Prosecution Office’s refusal to release Pouya’s body and allow a family burial. … this refusal was based on an instruction from the Ministry of Interior to carry off all the protesters killed in Karaj—144 bodies as I was told at Karaj’s Medical Examiner’s Office—and bury them in Tehran.”
* State-dictated burials and mourning: “We buried Pouya…under heavy security force supervision…[and] Pouya’s mother and I were summoned three times to the Bureau and the Prosecution Office and warned to cancel our public invitation to his 40th day memorial gathering at his grave.”
* Threats and summoning of family members: “Since [Pouya’s death] the Bureau of Inquiries, part of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, has repeatedly threatened our family by telephone…I am frankly afraid that they may seek to silence us completely by any means possible.”
* House ransacked: On December 24, “more than fifty plainclothes officers raided our residence. They ransacked every room and seized all our photographs, letters, books, computers, and mobile phones.”
* Detainments, solitary confinements for family members: After parents insisted on inviting the public to their son’s 40th memorial ceremony, “The entire family, including myself, Pouya’s mother, sister, brother-in-law, two uncles, and an 11-year-old cousin were handcuffed, blindfolded, and taken in separate cars to Karaj’s Reja’i Shahr prison. We were isolated from each other and held for periods ranging from two days to a month.”
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