"He was 28 years old, he is still 28 years old, he is not getting older, he is still young. Can you believe it? He did not grow old, he was killed young. They shot him from behind and killed him. The people who shot him say they had killed a rioter and he had to be buried at night. Can you believe it?”
I spoke to the young man’s relative, who called himself Idris, saying he did not want to use his real name. He said he feels so bitter when he talks about the death of his beloved Borhan, who he tells me "was crushed by the rulers' repression machine.”
It could have happened to anyone anywhere – in Shiraz, Sirjan, Isfahan, Shahriar, Mahshahr, Behbahan or Kermanshah. "Does it make a difference?” he asked.
Borhan Mansournia is one of at least nine victims killed during the crackdown on protesters in Kermanshah; at least 16 people have died throughout the province. Originally from Marivan in Kurdistan province and a veterinary doctor at the University of Urmia, he was completing his military service at Section 110 of Kermanshah Police Force and had only two months left, according to Idris.
Borhan Mansournia’s dream was to set up a veterinary clinic in Marivan. "He was counting the days until the end of his military service,” Idris told me. “He said there was not much left. He would finish and go back to establish the clinic.”
Idris spoke poetically, emotional words describing what has been lost with the death of his family member, a man who was passionate about philosophy and his community. He says Borham had an incredible attitude to life, and for him, civil protest was a serious issue: "When he saw people gathering in the main boulevard of Kermanshah, he could not but join them. This was because of his social commitment and his desire to be a part of history. A page of history was being turned and Borhan had deliberately chosen to be part of this transformation."
Idris says a person who plans for tomorrow views the protests as a chance to live, not a bold step to die. He told me the protests were peaceful, and that Borhan had worked and fought so hard for something that mattered, not just to die.
Borhan survived long enough to talk about what had happened to him. ”Borhan had 24-hour working shifts. He worked for 24 hours and then had a 24-hour rest. He ended his shift on Saturday, November 16 at 8am and returned to his brother's house in the Dolatabad neighborhood. At 4:30pm, he left home to go to the barber’s. When he saw the rallies, he changed his mind and joined the crowd.”
Forces Ready to Kill and Hospitals Unable to Help
But unlike Borhan Mansournia, who had joined the crowd on a sudden instinct, there were others who were planning, people who were ready to kill. Security forces began shooting protesters without warning: "They started shooting at 5:45pm. I have heard that seven people were killed in that attack in the Dolatabad neighborhood that evening," Idris said. "Most of the bullets hit the necks, heads, and hearts of the people. A bullet hit Borhan's back and after severely injuring his kidney and stomach, the bullet exited his body. Borhan fell, but he was still alive."
Crowds helped take the injured away before security agents could arrive and arrest them. A local resident took Borhan to his home and got on his mobile phone to call an ambulance and Borhan’s brother, informing him about what had happened. “Borhan’s brother and the ambulance arrived. Farabi Hospital was the closest hospital, but it refused to accept him. Can you believe it? The hospital refused to accept injured people who had lost so much blood and were in a serious condition and have to be taken to the operating room immediately. They begged. No use. After an hour of helplessly waiting, they got another ambulance and headed to Taleghani Hospital."
At Taleghani Hospital, they were initially refused too, with hospital staff saying they could not treat him there. But Borhan's brother pleaded with them and finally, they agreed to see him. "At 8:20pm, when Borhan had lost a lot of blood and his body was very cold, he was taken to the operating room. The operation lasted until 1am."
Idris says that during the time he was there, a person died every few minutes and was taken from the operating rooms to the morgue. "Each time a person was taken out of the operating room there were shouts and screams from the families standing outside the door. Apparently eight people lost their lives that night."
Borhan came out of the operating room, unconscious but alive. He was expected to be transferred to the intensive care unit, but he was transferred to the inpatient ward. “No one was accountable,” said Idris. “No beds were found in the ward. They kept Borhan on the stretcher for eight hours in the corridor. The nurses behaved more humanely and were more friendly than the doctors and the hospital management and checked on Borhan frequently. When Borhan woke up, he groaned and was in great pain and he started to bleed again."
Idris says the doctor in charge, Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Shakeri, should have at least ordered his transfer to the ICU when he saw the patient in such a state, but the doctor's recommendation never came. "The nurses who saw his deteriorating condition reported it to Dr. Shakeri several times, but he did not change his opinion, and he did not order that Borhan be sent to the intensive care unit. In the final minutes of Borhan's life, Dr. Shakeri explained to his family how his condition was deteriorating and told them that he may have been addicted to drugs and that could be the reason."
The family protested against this and asked for him to be transferred to the intensive care unit. "They said Borhan's body was cold and there was nothing more they could do. The doctor, who had done nothing at the time when he should have, deliberately and irresponsibly completed the unfinished job of the security guards. He wanted to escape the responsibility, and Borhan was finally transferred to the ICU, but it was too late."
A few minutes after being transfer to ICU on Monday, November 18, Borhan Mansournia was pronounced dead. "He reached the finish line without going down the track, inexperienced, with his joys and bitterness,” Idris told me. “The unfinished journey was over.”
Borhan Mansournia was hospitalized for 34 hours, and fought hard for his life for those 34 hours. He fought hard and did his best, both in life and in his dying hours, Idris said. “They deprived him of a chance to live a beautiful life with bullets of hatred."
Idris says that while Borhan was in the hospital fighting for his life, none of his commanders and in the service came to see him: "He was no longer a kind and compassionate duty officer, but a rioter on his deathbed. Taleghani Hospital did not accept the Armed Forces Insurance Booklet issued to the soldiers. It was not about the insurance; they did not want to say that a duty officer, who should be entitled to support from the organization he worked for, and who was on legal leave outside his working hours and legal leave. But [they behaved as though] he had nothing to do with the organization."
A Sham Autopsy
After Borhan Mansouria's death, the hospital was under pressure from security forces, who told staff they must refuse to hand over his body to be examined by a forensic medical team. The coroner should have written a report and the body should have been delivered to the family for burial. "The body of Borhan was not to be returned,” said Idris. “Many relatives came, from Marivan, Sanandaj, Saqez, Dehgolan, and Kermanshah. They gathered in front of the hospital together. They were afraid. The paperwork going between the court and the security forces accelerated and finally permission was issued. The hospital was able to transfer the body to forensic medicine on Tuesday, November 19, after receiving medical expenses of 5.6 million tomans ($440)” from the family.
An autopsy followed, and the body was then delivered to the family on Tuesday night so a funeral could be organized. "It was not easy,” Idris said. “Security officials threatened the family that if they reported Borhan’s death, they would face consequences. They did what they said and committed in writing that they would not make a complaint and would remain silent about what had happened, and would hold a quiet funeral for just the family."
On the night of Tuesday, November 19, Borhan Mansournia's body was transferred to Marivan: "The heavy security atmosphere in Marivan still prevails, and the security forces were looking for an excuse to kidnap Borhan's body and further hurt the family. On Wednesday morning, just hours after Borhan’s body arrived, he was buried."
Idris says Borhan’s body suffered further serious damage during the autopsy, and he believes this was deliberate. But the doctor and medical staff who treated him had seen his body over those 34 hours, and they knew what parts of his body were injured: "Borhan was shot in the waist and his internal organs were injured, but during the so-called autopsy the neck, his head, hands and feet were completely split. His nose was broken. It may be that these deliberate abnormal injuries on Borhan’s body during the autopsy were meant to attribute the cause of his death to factors other than gunshot wounds and inadequate treatment."
Mansournia's family have repeatedly gone to the forensic doctor in Kermanshah for a final report on the cause of death, but the coroner refuses to submit it. "It is unclear why the report was not handed over to the family. The security forces say they have no responsibility in the shooting and that the bullet that hit him was not from them or other officials, and that Borhan was the victim of a street fight."
In the end, this was the story. Borhan Mansournia was the victim of a street fight, but then officials treated his body with indignity and refused to hand it over to the family, threatened them, and denied them the right to bury him in accordance with common customs and in the presence of his community. At the same time, authorities pressured the family to say that Borhan’s death was nothing to do with being suppressed or brutalized during protests. "This is our story,” Idris said, and here he seemed to be talking about more than just his family. “The government either steals the bodies of the victims or totally denies what has happened."