Hadis Najafi: Iran Police Fire On Mourners For Female Protester – Witnesses
Iranian security forces have opened fire on crowds near Tehran marking the 40th day of mourning for a woman shot dead while protesting, witnesses say.
Videos showed thousands walking along roads to reach the grave in Karaj of Hadis Najafi, who has become a symbol of the anti-government unrest in Iran.
State-run media say “rioters” killed a militiaman and injured 10 police.
But witnesses told the BBC that security forces attacked protesters with shotguns, tear gas and machetes.
“They [security forces] were firing birdshot at people,” said one person living in an area where there were clashes. “They stabbed a protester with a machete after he fell to the ground, already hit with birdshot.”
Another witness told the BBC that a bullet fired by security forces had hit the window of their neighbour’s home.
“People are chanting ‘death to the dictator’ on the main street. They have fired tear gas. It has spread into the neighbourhood. My throat is burning.”
They added: “I tried to record a video from the window, but they are firing shots… I am scared. We have closed the curtains.”
BBC Persian also obtained a video showing security forces opening fire on a street and another from near the cemetery in which a gunshot could be heard.
The hard-line Tasnim news agency said a member of the paramilitary Basij Resistance Force had been stabbed to death by “rioters”.
The agency also said that three police officers were seriously injured in an alleged armed attack and posted a video it said showed the aftermath.
However, the report was rejected by opposition activist collective 1500tasvir, which had posted the original video.
It said the officers fired on protesters and that the protesters then chased them and threw stones at their pick-up truck. It posted other videos showing people throwing stones at the officers through the vehicle’s broken windows.
Hadis Najafi, a 22-year-old TikToker, recorded a video on her phone as she walked to a demonstration in Karaj, a city that is about 10km (6 miles) west of Tehran, on 21 September.
“I hope in a few years when I look back, I will be happy that everything has changed for the better,” she says in the video.
Her family says she was shot dead by security forces almost an hour later. Officials allegedly asked her father to say that she died of a heart attack.
Last week, Najafi’s sister posted a message on Instagram inviting “all our friends who stayed and supported us over the past couple of weeks” to a “chehelom” ceremony on Thursday marking the end of the 40-day mourning period, which is a culturally significant event for Iranians.
However, the BBC understands that she was later told to remove the post by the Iranian intelligence ministry. The family was also warned not to hold any public mourning ceremony or invite anyone to participate in it.
Activists reported on Thursday morning that roads to the Behesht Sakineh cemetery had been closed by security forces in anticipation of protests.
However, thousands of people apparently managed to make their way round the roadblocks and converge on the site. Videos posted on social media showed large crowds walking along a highway and other roads.
They were heard shouting “death to dictator” – a reference to Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Other chants included “You are the filth, you are the immoral, I am a free woman” and “Each protester killed will be replaced by 1,000 more”.
Other footage appeared to show security forces firing tear gas at protesters, as well as a police box and police cars on fire. Protesters were also seen tearing and burning a brown “abah” – a robe worn by Shia Muslim clerics.
Last week, security forces opened fire at crowds marking the 40th day of mourning for Mahsa Amini, the young woman whose death in police custody initially sparked the protests, and for Nika Shakarami, a teenage girl who was killed during a protest.
Norway-based Iran Human Rights said on Wednesday that 277 people, including 40 children and 24 women, had been killed by security forces in a violent crackdown launched in an attempt to quell the protests.
Authorities have denied involvement in the killing of protesters, instead blaming foreign-backed “infiltrators” and “terrorists”. A state-run newspaper said on Monday that 35 security personnel had been killed in “riots”.
In a separate development in south-eastern Iran, a cleric at a Shia mosque was shot dead in the predominantly Sunni flashpoint city of Zahedan, state news agency Irna reports. It cites the provincial police chief as saying Sajjad Shahraki was targeted by unknown armed men.
Zahedan saw several days of fierce clashes between security forces and ethnic Baluchi protesters at the end of September and start of October. Human rights activists say at least 83 people were killed.
Meanwhile, Kurdish human rights group Hengaw reported that security forces had arrested the father of Kumar Daroftateh, a 16-year-old boy who was allegedly shot by security forces at a protest in the north-eastern city of Piranshahr over the weekend.
In a viral video filmed at his son’s funeral on Monday, Hassan Daroftateh was seen saying: “I’m proud that my son was martyred for freedom. He was martyred for freedom of his land.”
Hengaw also said a rapper from Kermanshah had been charged with “enmity against God”, which carries the death penalty. Saman Yasin had sung protest songs in Kurdish and been tortured since his arrest three weeks ago, it added.