A picture of the body of a 9-year-old child, laying in ice at home instead of in a morgue over fear it could be abducted by security forces, showed the failure of the government and its media arm to scare the protesters.
Kian Pirfalak was among the seven people killed after "unknown" gunmen opened fire at people during protests in the southwestern city of Izeh late on November 16.
Reza Shariati, 25, Ashraf Nikbakht, 45, Abtin Rahmani,13, Ali Mowlai and two unidentified people are the other victims of the carnage.
Hit by Seven Bullets Shot from Four Sides
A member of Kian's family told IranWire that the child was shot while he and his father were returning home in a car. The vehicle was hit by seven bullets shot from four sides. Three of the bullets hit Kian in the back. The young boy lost his life due to injuries to his lungs.
The relative said the assailants were the same people who had arrested his cousins and neighbors in recent weeks.
"Izeh is a small town, and we all know each other. The assailants were the ones who came after those who were arrested during the 2018 protests and later released," the relative said.
"Izeh was very crowded, and many people were killed during the 2018 protests and many more were put in prison. Some prisoners were released after one or two years. When this year's protests began, people from the IRGC (eds: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps) and intelligence officers were looking for those who had been released from prison. They took a pledge from everyone that they wouldn’t participate in protests.”
Kian's relative said that the town “was crowded that night from 5 p.m.” “The protests extended to the Valipur neighborhood, which is far from the city center.”
"The smell of tear gas could be felt all over the city. We lit fires in the courtyards of the houses so that we could breathe. Since the evening, the police force and plainclothes officers were in the city and were clashing with the protesters," he said.
A video of Kian’s dead body went viral a few hours later. "The innocent and lifeless body of Kian Pirfalak. He was going home with his father when he was shot by the corrupt regime of the Islamic Republic," a man can be heard saying.
Kian was a third-grade student who dreamed of becoming a robotics engineer. He enjoyed planting trees.
Fearing that his body could be abducted by the authorities, the Pirfalak family did not hand him over to the morgue. Kian's mother waited until the next morning before allowing the body to be transferred to the mortuary in Parchestan village, the father's village.
Officials Blames Terrorists, Again
According to state and semiofficial media, two groups of people on motorcycles opened fire at civilians and "security defenders."
"At 17:30 on Wednesday afternoon, in a terrorist act, two motorcycle riders shot at the people and security guards with military weapons,” ISNA news agency quoted Khuzestan province’s deputy police commander Valiullah Hayati as saying.
"Five people have so far been martyred in Izeh city and a number of security forces were injured. Attempts are underway to arrest the attackers."
The provincial governor declared one day of mourning in the entire province and three days in Izeh.
An hour later, IRNA news agency and the Hamshahri newspaper, which is affiliated with the Tehran municipality, alleged that the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS) had claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, media outlets published a statement in which ISIS appeared to be claiming responsibility for the attack. However, the statement was not posted on the social media accounts used by ISIS, and some mistakes were visible on the document. IRNA deleted the statement without explanation a few hours later.
State TV later broadcasted an interview with someone they introduced as Kian's uncle, and who claimed that the incident in Izeh was similar to last month’s shooting at a Shia shrine in the southern city of Shiraz.
On October 26, as protesters across the country were marking 40 days since Mahsa Amini’s death in the custody of morality police, a gunman killed 15 people at Shahcheragh Shrine, in what was described as a terrorist attack.
The security agencies immediately announced they had identified the perpetrator, while media close to the government published an alleged ISIS statement in which the group apparently claimed responsibility for the assault. This purported ISIS statement raised many issues.
The Islamic Republic tried the same scenario to explain the killing of more than 90 people in the eastern city of Zahedan on September 30, when security forces opened fire on crowds. State media tried to blame the Sunni militant group Jaish al-Adl.
The authorities blamed separatist groups for Zahedan's "Black Friday" before admitting shortcomings by police and sacking the police commander of Sistan and Baluchistan province.
Officials of the Islamic Republic are now trying to say that terrorists are behind the attack in Izeh.