Iranian security forces fired tear gas Monday at people participating in a ceremony to mark the third day since the death of a young man, Erfan Zamani, a 23-year-old student and construction worker who was killed last Thursday in Lahijan by security forces. He was from Siahkel city and had traveled to Lahijan to participate in recent protests. A large crowed had gathered despite heavy rain to pay tribute to Zamani.
IranWire citizen journalist Simin Farahmand filed this piece about Zamani's death.
"For Somayeh Ibrahimpour and her loneliness." One of the victim's relatives asked me to start the piece with this: Erfan Zamani was Somayeh Ibrahimpour’s son.
Mourning mothers have the right to have their names registered next to their dead children – whether on the gravestones or at the beginning of a report in which the mother wishes to speak about a horrible crime.
But why is Somayeh Ibrahimpour silent? Why doesn't she shout? Why doesn't she even cry? She is in deep despair that cannot be compared to her hardships during all the years she raised Erfan without his father. When Erfan was three years old, his father left him and his mother. As a teenager, he worked various jobs, from cabinet-making to construction work, while also pursuing his studies.
Lahijan was in complete chaos that night. Plainclothes offices with the support of the police committed crimes against the people and much blood was shed on the streets of the city.
One of the victims of that night was Erfan Zamani, who was shot at close range in the city’s Sheerbaf neighborhood. The bullet, which struck him from behind, had damaged Erfan's kidneys, and witnesses said that he told friends in a Gilaki regional accent: "Guys, I’ve been shot. Don't let me die."
Erfan was worried about his mother at that moment.
He was not very far from Shafa hospital, and his life could have been saved, but according to witnesses, including one commentator on Lahijan’s official Instagram page, when Erfan was lying on the street and bleeding, security officers stood around him, threatening people and preventing them from helping the dying young man. The officers fired tear gas and shotguns and threatened witnesses with beatings.
"They shot several people in front of our eyes," a witness said.
One agent could be seen – in footage taken of the scene – putting his foot on Erfan's neck and taking a victory pose as if he were a hunter.
Erfan was eventually put in the back of a white van and taken to the hospital, but it was too late. Medical staff at the hospital later said that the prosecutor of Lahijan and a number of officers took Erfan’s remains, as well as those of a slain Basij agent, away from the morgue at around 1130pm that night.
Tasnim news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, reported the death of the Basij member and named him as Hamid Pournorouz, from the events of Thursday night in Lahijan.
"At around 1am, the blood was washed off the street," the Lahijan City Instagram page wrote.
But the next day, at the place of Erfan's murder, the intersection of Kashif street in front of Abd al-Razzaq school, was covered with flowers and lighted candles, in a tribute to the young man. Many residents have begun to call the street after Erfan’s name.
One woman in Lahijan has said that officers later visited the spot and kicked and scattered the flowers. “But people gathered again and put flowers and candles on the street until the government sent more forces to disperse them," she said.
And according to a relative, Erfan's body was handed over to the family on the condition that they bury him quietly and immediately. He was buried on Friday while at least 20 plainclothes forces were monitoring the procession – which despite threats drew a crowd that was dispersed with tear gas and a crackdown.