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Politics

Iranian Protester’s Body Returned To Family In Exchange For His New Car

November 12, 2022
Shima Shahrabi
3 min read
The body of Esmail Shanbedi, 29, was handed over to his family several days after he died, only after they gave his new car to the security forces.
The body of Esmail Shanbedi, 29, was handed over to his family several days after he died, only after they gave his new car to the security forces.
“Esmail was buried like stranger” in a remote cemetery near Shiraz.
“Esmail was buried like stranger” in a remote cemetery near Shiraz.

“After he was born on April 4, 1993, they named him after his uncle Esmail who was a martyr of the Iran-Iraq war [in the 1980s]. His uncle was killed on the frontline, and [Esmail] was killed on a pavement in Shiraz,” a source close to Esmail Shanbedi’s family tells IranWire.

Esmail, 29, was seriously injured by security forces during a protest in the southern city of Shiraz on the night of October 14. He passed away five days later in hospital.

Esmail’s body was handed over to the family several days after the death, only after they gave his new car to the security forces.

Shanbedi was the caretaker of his family, the source says. He had a high school diploma and worked in a car repair shop in Shiraz. “His parents had separated when he was small, and Esmail lived with his mother. Unfortunately, his mother’s second husband died a few years ago and Esmail took care of his mother and two stepsisters.”

Esmail’s mothers and two stepsisters lived in the city of Estahban, Fars province: “He was a hardworking kid and had worked since he was very young. Just recently he had bought a new car, a model made by Iran Khodro. He hadn’t even unwrapped the car yet.”

On October 14, as protests were raging across Iran, Esmail and several friends joined the crowds in Qaani Street in Shiraz. They were chanting slogans when plainclothes security agents and riot police attacked them.

Esmail’s friends said he was unable to walk after his waist was hit by several pellets shot from shotguns: “His friends had a motorcycle. They put him on the back of the motorcycle to remove him from the scene, but the plainclothesmen showed no mercy. They followed the motorcycle in a car and hit the motorcycle with full force. Esmail fell from the motorcycle to the ground. But they still showed no mercy and started hitting him with batons. Then they called the emergency services and took Esmail to Rajai Hospital in Shiraz.”

According to this source, security forces had been stationed at Rajai Hospital since the early days of the protests.

This is confirmed by a hospital worker: “Plainclothesmen and security forces are in the hospital at all times and don’t allow families to visit the wounded protesters.”

Esmail’s family were likewise prevented from visiting him until October 19, the source says, adding that the young man’s spinal cord had been severed.”

Security forces pressured the family to say Esmail had died in an “accident,” otherwise they would not hand over his body: “It was not a lie. Esmail had died in an accident of their making. The family stayed silent so that, perhaps, they would give them the body. But then they told them they had to pay 45 million tomans to cover the costs of the hospitalization.”

Esmail’s family could not afford such a sum: “A few days later they came for the car. They took Esmail’s new car and handed over his body to his family.”

That day, October 26, thousands of Iranians marked the 40th day since Mahsa Amini died while in custody of morality police, taking to the streets across the country to express anger against the clerical regime: “The family wanted to bury him somewhere close. They said they were going to bury him at Shiraz Martyrs Cemetery, but they were not allowed.”

“So, they took the body to the remote Behesht Ahmadi Cemetery...they said only close relatives could attend the funeral and that they must stay silent and not chant slogans, otherwise they would take away the body and bury it themselves. So, Esmail was buried like stranger. Please, please be Esmail’s voice.”

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