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

Arman Estakhrian

About

Age: 17
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: July 11, 2009
Location of Killing: Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Arbitrary execution
Charges: Unknown charge
Age at time of offense: 17

About this Case

Shy, even secluded, he was learning karate in Shiraz and liked sports.  At 17, he put up election posters and helped distribute a CD* critical of the incumbent** president.

Information about Mr. Arman Estakhrian’s killing was taken from the website of HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) on July 14 and August 8, 2009. Additional information was provided from ABF interviews with informed sources.

Mr. Arman Estakhrian, 17, was a high school student. According to the interviewee he was shy, polite, and interested in sports. He practiced karate. Various events, including the death of his father, had affected Mr. Estakhrian’s studies. He lived in seculsion and spent most of his time surfing on the internet. Mr. Estakhrian had been very active in the presidential campaign.

According to the informed source, a free and open atmosphere dominated the city of Shiraz before the presidential elections. A CD called “Political 90” revealing information regarding the Iranian president and candidates was widely distributed in Shiraz. Mr. Estakhrian was very active in the duplication and distribution of this CD and other tasks, such as attaching election posters to cars.

After Ahmadinejad's declared victory in the presidential election, protesters poured into the streets of Shiraz. According to those who participated in the demonstrations in Shiraz, people held several gatherings on June 13, 2009. On this day, security forces were present and tried to disperse protesters using tear gas. The Basij forces began to suppress people the next day and clashes intensified. Anti-riot police shot at people and beat them, using harsh language. People in return attempted to throw stones to defend themselves. Clashes were more intense at Molasadra Street and the area around Shiraz University. According to eye-witnesses, at least two individuals were shot on June 15. One was a 26 or 27 year old who was shot in his side and the other, a 23 or 24 year old man who was shot in his thigh. The fate of these two individuals is unknown. The eye-witnesses stated they heard that two individuals were killed near Shiraz Seda-va-Sima (government run radio and television). These demonstrations continued for a while at Molasadra Street and specially the area around Shiraz University.

According to existing information, Mr. Arman Estakhrian participated in a demonstration at Molasadra Street on June 24, 2009. During this protest, plain-clothes forces and anti-riot police blockaded the street at both ends and attacked people. During this clash, Mr. Arman Estakhrian was hit with a baton. People transferred him to Namazi Hospital near the clash location. He went into coma due to a blow to his head. His family later transferred him to MRI Hospital where he ultimately died on July 11, after being in coma for 17 days. His body was returned to his family three days later. He was buried at Darolrahmeh in Shiraz on July 21, 2009.

Officials’ Reaction

No official confirmed or denied the beating and death of Mr. Arman Estakhrian by the anti-riot police.

Mr. Arman Estakhrian’s family kept silence about his killing and its connection to the anti-government demonstration. According to the interviewee, the reason for this silence was their family relationship with an influential official. The latter had reportedly claimed that Mr. Estakhrian’s death was due to injuries caused by a car accident at Molasadra Street. This source rejected the possibility of such an accident as the cause of death for several reasons including the fact that the street was closed due to the demonstration so there was no traffic. It is said that after the rushed burial, his family, who lived in a low income neighborhood of Shiraz, moved to a rich neighborhood of the city that the family income did not allow.

According to the interviewee, employees of the hospital where Mr. Estakhrian was kept reported to a third pary that no reception of any accident victim and one of them confirmed that he went into coma due to blows of a baton. Also, a person, who works at Molasadra Street in Shiraz, had witnessed him being beaten by the anti-riot police.

Background

Election returns from Iran’s June 12th, 2009, presidential election declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 62.63 percent of the vote. Following the announcement, citizens disputing these official results demonstrated in the streets. Text messaging services were disrupted starting at 11:00 p.m. on the night before the election and remained unavailable for nearly three weeks, until July 1st. On Election Day, the deputy chief of Iranian police announced a ban on any gathering of presidential candidates’ supporters throughout the country. The same evening, security forces made a “show of strength,” increasing their presence in Tehran’s public squares to “reinforce security at polling stations.” Officials at election headquarters began reporting results soon after midnight, despite a statement from the Minister of the Interior that the first returns would not be announced until after the morning prayer (around 4:00 a.m.).

Many supporters of other presidential candidates came out into the streets on June 13th, once the results were made public, to protest what they believed to be a fraudulent election. Candidates Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karubi, and Mohsen Reza’i, Ahmadinejad’s competitors in the race, contested the election, alleging many instances of fraud. They filed complaints with the Council of Guardians, the constitutional body charged with vetting candidates before elections take place and approving the results afterwards, requesting an annulment and calling for a new election. Before the Council of Guardians could review their claims, however, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election. In the meantime, many people active in Karubi’s and Musavi’s campaigns were arrested.

On June 15th, unprecedented demonstrations filled the streets of central Tehran, in which an estimated three million protestors participated, according to statements attributed to the mayor of Tehran. As the demonstrations were ending, paramilitary forces attacked the marchers, injuring and killing several people. To prevent such news from being broadcast, the Iranian government expelled foreign journalists from the country and banned news agencies from reporting on the events. Over the next three days, protesters took part in peaceful demonstrations in Tehran. The repression entered a new phase on June 19thafter Ayatollah Khamenei’s Friday sermon, in which he announced his support for Ahmadinejad and warned protestors that they were responsible for any disorder and its consequences. Amnesty International stated that the speech gave “legitimacy to police brutality.” The next day and thereafter, police and plainclothes paramilitary groups attacked the protesters. Public gatherings of any kind were declared illegal, and police, motorcycle-riding special units wearing black uniforms and helmets, and plainclothes agents brutally enforced this restriction.

Individuals in civilian clothing, commonly referred to as plainclothes forces, are used in the Islamic Republic to disrupt political and trade union activities, student events and gatherings, electoral initiatives, and protests. Armed with sticks and clubs, and sometimes with chains, knives, batons, or firearms, they emerge when the state decides to suppress dissent. These plainclothes forces move about freely, violently beating protesters and arresting them, while the police passively look on or actively cooperate with them.

There is little information on the command structure and organization of such groups, whose members wear ordinary clothing rather than official uniforms and may be affiliated with the ministry of information, influential political groups, or the armed forces. Following the post-election demonstrations in June 2009, pictures of some plainclothes agents were posted on internet websites. Internet users helped to identify some of them and provided evidence that these individuals were affiliated with the Basij paramilitary groups, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and state intelligence forces. On September 16, 2009, a deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Province of Tehran confirmed the active and decisive role of Basij forces in the repression of the demonstrations, saying, “Basijis, through their presence in recent events, have blinded the eyes of the conspirators, and they should be appreciated… The enemies of Islam wanted to make the air dusty and to exploit the recent events, but thank God, through the enlightenment of the Honorable Leader we were victorious against this conspiracy.” He also emphasized, “The zealous youth of [the] Basij, believers in the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, are the second and third generations of the Revolution. They have been successful in this stage and victorious on this battlefield.”

When personal property was damaged during the protests, government authorities and state-run radio and television programs accused the demonstrators of vandalism and justified the repression. At the same time, however, footage posted online showed security forces destroying and damaging property on side streets and in uncongested areas away from the protests. Moreover, in a public gathering in Tehran on October 20th, the chief of Iranian police conceded that police had destroyed and damaged property and accepted responsibility for it.

The precise number of citizens injured, killed, or disappeared in the post-election violence is not known. According to various reports, there were hundreds of victims in demonstrations throughout the country. More than seventy names have been reported. It is said that officials have threatened victims’ family members, demanding their silence and that they refrain from giving interviews. Reports also allege that returning a victim’s body to a family has been made conditional upon their agreement to change the cause of death listed on the coroner’s certificate to that of a heart attack or some other natural cause — thus foregoing the right to file a complaint — as well as the family's agreement not to hold memorial services for the loved one.

According to government statements, more than 4,000 people were arrested throughout Iran in the weeks following June 12th. Many have been held at the Kahrizak Detention Center, where prisoners’ rights and minimum hygiene standards were typically ignored. Numerous reports of violence, including the torture and rape of detainees, have been published. State reports and testimonies confirm that a number of detainees at Kahrizak died in custody due to beatings, difficult and unbearable prison conditions, and torture.

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