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Last updateFri, 19 Jan 2018 12pm

Local Officials in Iranian City Dezful Attempt to Deflect Responsibility for Protesters’ Death

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CHRI - A protester died from a bullet wound during a protest in the city of Dezful despite a local official’s claim that “this man’s death had nothing to do with recent events,” the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) has learned.

“For the past few days there has been a lot of talk around town about how [Mohsen] Adeli died, but the truth is that the officials are not telling the whole story,” a local reporter told CHRI on condition of anonymity for security reasons. “Fortunately, despite all their efforts to hide the truth, it is now very clear what happened.”

On January 7, video clips were shared on social media of Mohsen Adeli’s funeral, where he was revered as a “martyr” of the anti-government protests that swept across dozens of Iranian cities for more than a week as of December 28, 2017.

On January 8, 2018, a reporter at a local news outlet in Dezful told CHRI that Adeli had disappeared on January 1 and two days later the police delivered his body to his family, claiming he had committed suicide in detention.

After CHRI tweeted this information on January 9, Dezful’s governor, Arsalan Jafari, denied to the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) that anyone had died in detention and claimed Dezful had been relatively calm during the protests.

The governor’s denial was echoed by his deputy for political affairs, Amir Issazadeh, who insisted no one had died in detention. The city’s military governor, Colonel Ali Elhami, also told ILNA “this man’s death had nothing to do with recent events.”

However, one hour later, a representative of the Committee for the Defense of Detainees announced that Adeli had been “martyred” by direct gunfire. His brother, Mohsen Adeli, was also wounded, according to Mehdi Mahmoudian.

Formed by journalists and human rights advocates after the recent wave of arrests in Iran, the committee also reported that in addition to one dead and four injured protesters, 240 people had been arrested in Dezful during the recent unrest and all but 30 of them had been released.

“The people are saying that 1,500 people have been injured and arrested. These rumors get built up because the officials don’t know how to inform the public,” the local reporter told CHRI. “All they do is tighten security and deny all the reports. They intimidate the families and warn them against talking to reporters.”

At least 25 people have died and more than 3,700 hundred have been arrested across Iran since the protests broke out in late December.

At least two protesters—23-year-old Sina Ghanbari and 22-year-old Vahid Heydari—have died in custody.