Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Borhan Mansurnia

About

Age: 28
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: November 18, 2019
Location of Killing: Kermanshah, Kermanshah Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Arbitrary execution
Charges: Unknown charge
Age at time of offense: 28

About this Case

Mr. Mansurnia was acutely aware of social problems surrounding him, and economic inequality bothered him greatly. He intended to start a specialized and modern veterinary clinic in his hometown of Marivan after his mandatory military service, and serve the people of the region and surrounding villages.

Information regarding the killing of Mr. Borhan Mansurnia, son of Soraya and Rahim, was obtained through interviews conducted with a person who knew him on December 9, and 17, 2019, January 25, 2020, and June 2, 2020 (ABC Interview). News of Mr. Mansurnia’s murder was also published on the website of Human Rights Activists in Iran – HRANA (December 3, 2019), Iran International (November 27, 2019), Radio Zamaneh (December 5, 2019), and Iran Wire (December 5, 2019). Additional information was obtained through a report by Radio Zamaneh (January 24, 2020), Kurdistan Human Rights Campaign (January 27, 2020), Iran Human Rights Network (December 19, 2019, January 31, 202), Iran Human Rights Campaign (January 31, 2020), and Iran Human Rights Center (February 7, and 19, 2020).

Mr. Mansurnia was born on June 22, 1991, in the town of Marivan. He was single, an ethnic Kurd, and an ethical individual. Although his main interest lied in social science, he studied in the mathematics curriculum for a year on the insistence of [family and friends], and got his high school diploma in the science curriculum. He was accepted in the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program. In his spare time, he read sociology and psychology books and wanted to continue his studies and obtain a master’s degree in psychology, once he had obtained his veterinary degree and performed his mandatory military service. Mr. Mansurnia defended his doctoral thesis in December 2018. (ABC Interview). Mr. Mansurnia read a lot and, in addition to short stories, he read books of astronomy. He also liked watching movies, especially European films. He liked mountain climbing and bicycle riding, and was into bodybuilding as well. He was also very good at computer games and had been ranked in certain regional competitions when he was in high school. (ABC Interview).

Mr. Mansurnia had a small build and was made fun of at school by his peers because of that. In college, he showed a lot of interest in social issues, including economic inequality and the environment, and closely followed the news related to those issues and to events happening in his own surroundings. As part of his university curriculum, he worked at a clinic in Marivan during his last year of study; he would travel to the surrounding villages in order to understand the needs of the people of the region and to [eventually] establish a modern veterinary clinic in Marivan after his military service. He began his mandatory military service in February-March 2019, and was dispatched to [the city of] Kermanshah’s Police Force’s Police Emergencies Center 110 once he finished basic training. (ABC Interview).

Background

Right before midnight on November 14, 2019, the Iranian government announced a sharp increase in the price of gasoline (a 50% increase for rationed gasoline, and a 200% increase for regular gasoline). Following the government’s announcement, nationwide protests began on November 15. According to available reports and videos, the protesters gathered peacefully in public places on November 15 and 16, and caused very heavy traffic by blocking a number of streets. The protesters also chanted anti-governments slogans. Protesters across the country were asking their compatriots to turn their cars off and chant anti-regime slogans (1). According to reports, by the end of the day on November 16, banks had been set on fire in certain regions. Gunshots can be heard in some videos. That same night, the government blocked internet access in the entire country for at least ten days. Lack of access to information severely diminished the protesters ability to organize protests and report on the regime’s brutal and ruthless clampdown of the demonstrators (2).

The reaction of the Iranian authorities was swift, disproportionate, extreme, and deadly. From the very early days of the protests, that is, by November 16, the leaders of the Islamic Republic started to put the blame on the people in their public statements, and demonstrated that they would not tolerate any dissent or expression of discontent. The protesters were accused of being “hoodlums” and “in contact with forces outside the country”, and were warned that they would suffer grave punishment if they damaged public property. News of the first casualty was reported on November 15. On the second day of the protests, the number of the dead increased as police and security forces continued to open fire on the populace in several cities. In video footage received from Iran, police and security forces can be seen firing their weapons into the demonstrators in circumstances where it does not appear that their lives are in danger. Plainclothes forces can also be seen beating people with clubs and arresting them. In certain cases, demonstrators blocked roads or gathered in front of police precincts or other government buildings, or pushed police and security forces back by throwing rocks. In several provinces, banks and other public buildings were set ablaze, seemingly by angry protesters, and the police can be seen damaging public property in some videos. The protests, which had spread to dozens of towns (120), roads, and locations outside urban areas, were quashed within a few days.

The exact number of casualties is not clear at the time of this writing. In most cases, government agents took the dead and wounded protesters away. In an effort to hide the truth, these officials obtained written pledges from the victims’ families that the would remain silent in return for the bodies of their loved ones, and even forced some of them to bury their dead at night under the veil of darkness, and under the control and watchful eye of security agents. Others were asked for various sums of money. In its latest report published on May 20, 2020, Amnesty International announced the number of dead to have been at least 304 (3). A large number of the demonstrators had been shot in the head and chest. Hundreds of others were wounded, and the fate of many is unknown. The Iranian government confirmed the death of 6 members of the police and security forces. On May 31, 2020, the Interior Minister declared the number of people killed in the November protests to have been between 200 and 225, 20 percent of whom were shot by non-governmental bullets (4). On June 1, 2020, the Head of Majless’ (“Parliament”) National Security Commission declared the number of people killed in the protests against the increase in the price of gas to have been 230, including members of the police and security forces (5). According to a Majless Representative, at least 7000 people were arrested during and after the protests. Lack of transparency regarding the arrests, official reports of the “confessions” of those arrested following the protests where they acknowledged their responsibility and guilt, in addition to reports of the overcrowding of prisons and detention centers way beyond their capacity, caused very serious concerns about the safety and the security of the detainees.

Mr. Mansurnia’s Death

According to available information, Mr. Mansurnia died at 9:30 PM on November 18, 2019, in the Intensive Care Unit of [the city of] Kermanshah’s Taleqani Hospital.

At 4:30 PM on November 16, 2019, Mr. Mansurnia left his brother’s home located in the Dolatabad neighborhood to participate in the popular demonstrations that had started a short time earlier in protest of the sudden increase in gas prices. Between 5:45 PM and 6 PM, a number of protesters who had gathered in front of Police Precinct 25, better known as Dolatabad Police Precinct, located in Kermanshah’s Dolatabad neighborhood, tried to climb up the wall of the Police Precinct to enter the premises. Right then, shots were fired into the crowd of people from atop the police precinct. Five people were killed, according to eyewitnesses. The people who had gathered in front of the Police Precinct, including Mr. Mansurnia, started to flee in the other direction after the shooting started, but the Special Forces Unit and the Police Force had surrounded the area. (ABC Interview; Iran International).

Seeing the Special Forces Unit in front of him, Mr. Mansurnia turned toward the crowd behind him when he was shot in the back. The bullet entered his lower back and exited his stomach. Mr. Mansurnia’s right leg was electrocuted after he was shot, as it had come into contact with electric cables. Mr. Mansurnia was first transported by an ambulance to Farabi Hospital; hospital officials, however, refused to admit him without providing a reason. After waiting for more than an hour, and as he continued to lose blood, he was transported to Taleqani Hospital by another ambulance. Mr. Mansurnia was taken into surgery at around 8:15 PM. After five hours of surgery, he was transferred from the operating room to the general ward in the early hours of the morning of November 17, 2019. He was kept in the hallway of the general ward for 8 hours, however, because there were no beds available. Mr. Mansurnia’s condition began to deteriorate starting around 3 PM on November 18, and his body temperature began to drop and continued to drop until 6 PM when he lost his speech. Upon his family’s insistence and while he was unconscious, Mr. Mansurnia was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). (ABC Interview; Radio Zamaneh, December 5, 2019).

Mr. Mansurnia died in the ICU at Taleqani Hospital. At around 9 PM on November 19, 2019, his body was turned over to his family at Karmanshah’s Medical Examiner’s Office, as a number of his family and friends had gathered in front of Taleqani Hospital. When the body was being turned over to this family, security officials obtained a pledge from Mr. Mansurnia’s family not to report on his death. The family took his body to Marivan, and Mr. Mansurnia was buried in the morning of November 20, in the presence of his close family members. (ABC Interview, December 17, 2019; Iran International; Radio Zamaneh).

Officials’ Reaction

According to available information, the Medical Examiner’s report on Mr. Mansurnia’s cause of death alludes to damage to the kidney, liver, spleen, and intestine, caused by a blunt object and internal bleeding. (ABC Interview; Radio Zamaneh).

With the publication of information regarding Mr. Mansurnia’s killing in the November protests in the media outside Iran, contact with and the summoning of his family to security and police organs began on November 19, 2019. In the early interrogations, the family was asked about the publication of information related to Mr. Mansurnia’s death. In late November 2019, the Kermanshah Criminal Investigations Unit and the Police Force Information Protection Unit denied that Mr. Mansurnia had been shot in the protests and said that he might have been shot in the course of a family squabble. A short time later, Mr. Mansurnia’s family was given a proposal by way of which, he would be considered a martyr and registered as such, killed at the hands of the protesters. They also presented to the family the possibility of paying them Diah (“blood money”). (ABC Interview).

Because of what had been published in the media regarding their son, Mr. Mansurnia’s family started being summoned two days after his death by various police and security organs, including the Information Ministry, the Revolutionary Guards’ Information Protection Unit, the Criminal Investigations Units of the cities of Marivan (Mr. Mansurnia’s birthplace) and Kermanshah (where he was killed), as well as the Kermanshah Police Force Headquarters, and the Kermanshah Province Information Protection General Administration, and pressured into accepting that he be treated as a martyr. In certain instances, security forces entered their home without a warrant and interrogated them. Mr. Mansurnia’s family also received numerous phone calls, in some of which they did not know the identity of the caller. (ABC Interview).

When Mr. Mansurnia’s family drafted their complaint against the governmental body that had been responsible for the shooting, the City of Kermanshah Criminal Investigations Unit agents told them: “The bullet [that killed Mr. Mansurnia] was most definitely non-government [issue].”

Familys’ Reaction

In addition to filing a complaint against the Special Forces Unit as the organ that had fired the shot that killed him, Mr. Mansurnia’s family also lodged a complaint against the physician who treated him, stating that he was negligent in providing post-operative care. These complaints have not been looked into by judicial authorities, however. Officials have not provided Mr. Mansurnia’s family with the Medical Examiner’s report. Furthermore, the hospital officials have not provided them with his medical file. (ABC Interview).

According to a person who knew Mr. Mansurnia, various parts of his body, such as his chest and the back of his ear, had been cut open, and his nose had been broken. (ABC Interview).

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(1)    The slogans included: “People, why are you sitting still, you are your own saviors,” “What a mistake we made, when we had a revolution,” “Reza Shah, may your soul be content,” “Death to the Dictator,” “We will have our rights [and justice], we will not be debased and belittled,” “oil money has disappeared, it was spent on Palestine,” “Khamenei beware: we are people, not hoodlums.”
(2)   Access to internet was re-established to a certain extent in most provinces (with the exception of Khuzestan Province and Sistan and Baluchestan Province); however, citizens did not have access to the worldwide web through their cell phones until early December. During that time, communications were established through phone services and the national internet, which was more easily controlled by the regime.
(3)   Amnesty International Report, “Iran: Details of 304 Deaths in Crackdown on November 2019 Protests”, May 20, 2020.
https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/MDE1323082020ENGLISH.PDF
(4)   IRNA, “The Interior Minister: The Number of Deaths in November 2019 Will be Announced in the Coming Days”, May 31, 2020.
www.irna.ir/news/83805499
(5)   ISNA, “The Number of Deaths in the November Events in Iran was 230, and 2000 Wounded”, June 1, 2020.
https://www.isna.ir/news/99031207389

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