"I really don't know whether at the particular moment when a bullet struck his heart, Reza was participating in the protests or was simply watching the protests, but I know for sure that Reza loved freedom and talked about it and expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation many times. By killing Reza, they killed a freedom lover. They were right; to kill freedom you have to shoot at its heart.”
This is the story of Bahman Reza Jafari, who was killed in Shiraz, told by his friend, who talked to IranWire on condition of anonymity.
It is not clear how many protesters were killed during the crackdown on the Shiraz protests. The names of some of the dead have been released, but many have yet to be named. According to reports in Shiraz, security forces shot Bahman Reza Jafari dead from the front on Sunday, November 17, at the Adelabad Prison intersection, where protests were taking place. He died in an ambulance an hour later.
Bahman Reza Jafari, 28, was a computer technician and lived in the Fergaz district of Shiraz. Known as Reza at home, he was one of many young people struggling with unemployment and without prospects for the future. "Reza could not find a job in his field of study and was unemployed,” his friend said. “He worked for a while in a car repair shop near the area where he lived. Bahman's father, Rahmat Jafari, was an oil company employee and spent all the years of the Iran-Iraq war in Abadan. One of Bahman's uncles, Esfandiar, is a disabled war veteran and has lived in the veterans' sanatorium for many years [due to his severe disabilities]. Another of Bahman's uncles, who gave his name to Bahman, was also executed in 1989. Bahman's uncle served on the People's Committee during the war years in Abadan, but was suddenly arrested and later executed for political reasons."
Bahman Jafari left home around 10am on the morning of Sunday, November 17. He had a temporary job and was traveling to work. At 11:30am, his family received a call and were told that he had been in an accident near an intersection and had been taken to a nearby clinic. The intersection is very close to Bahman's house, and his parents soon arrived to the clinic to find that Bahman had been shot and was in a serious condition. “The bullet had hit him slightly above his heart. Bahman was being taken by ambulance to Shiraz Central Hospital due to the lack of facilities in the clinic, but he died in the ambulance before reaching the hospital.”
It has been reported that many people killed during the November protests were not actually taking part in them, but simply watching what was happening, or in some cases even trying to make their way through areas where protests were taking place. There are no figures estimating how many people died in this indiscriminate and arbitrary manner.
“Bahman needed to work," said the friend. They lived in the Fergaz area of Shiraz and many shops and workshops were closed that day in different areas of Shiraz, including near Fergaz, where people were protesting. I really don't know if Reza was involved in the protests at that particular moment or was simply watching the protests, but I know for sure that Reza loved freedom and had expressed his dissatisfaction with the current situation many times before. By killing Reza, they killed a freedom lover. They were right; to kill freedom you have to shoot at its heart.”
Desperate to Bury Their Son in the Customary Tradition
The body of Bahman Reza Jafari was transferred to the coroner on the same day, and was supposed to be handed over to the family after the cause of death and death certificate were issued: "The family went to the coroner for the body, but they did not hand over the body and did not let anyone see it. They were told not to stay there and that they should go home and that whenever the forensic doctor's job was done, they would be called to come and pick the body up.”
The family tried to pick up his body on Monday, November 18, but again, the only answer they received was that the authorities would call them. Finally, five days after he died, on Friday, November, 22, the Shiraz government called Bahman Reza Jafari’s family and asked his father to personally collect the letter that said they could have the body. “They gave the letter to Rahmat, Bahman’s father. He was asked to sign it, but Bahman's father was not feeling well at all and was not aware of what he was signing and he actually signed the letter without reading it. Mr Jafari was only told that the letter was a pledge. They kill innocent people and ask [families] to sign a pledge to return the body.”
Authorities finally handed over Bahman Reza’s body to his family on Friday, November 22, but the family was not allowed to mention the reason for his death when they hung up public notices of his funeral. “They were told if they were asked about the reason for the death, they should say he had died in a car accident,” the family friend told IranWire. “And he was not allowed to be buried in Shiraz Dar-ol-Rahme [cemetery]. The three-day attempt by the family to change the decision of Shiraz security officials in this case failed. Eventually, Bahman's body was buried in Dar-ol-Rahme, about 40 kilometers from Shiraz in Cashan.”
Bahman Jafari's family are from the Bakhtiari Tribe of Izeh, and lived in Abadan until the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war. After the evacuation of Abadan at the beginning of the war, members of the family were displaced and moved to other cities across Iran, and some of the family went to Shiraz. Despite living far from their ancestral home, the family maintained many of the tribe’s traditional customs. "One of the burial customs among much of the southern part of Iran is to take the body around the house to give the family an opportunity to say their last goodbyes. The family wanted to bring the body of Bahman, the youngest child in the family, to the house, but despite the fact that the ambulance carried Bahman's body to the house, the security officials did not allow the body to be taken throughout the home to carry out the custom. He was taken directly to Cashan and buried there.”
Family Warned not to Talk
On the day before the funeral, Bahman's father Mr. Rahmat was once again summoned by the authorities. Not only had they been warned not to speak about what had happened, but they were also instructed not to let anyone mourn too loudly at the funeral. "There were security guards inside the morgue and at the time of the burial to prevent the family or those present from taking pictures or videos of Bahman’s body,” the family friend told us. “They were also sensitive to noises. No one could cry – not his father, his mother, his brother or his sisters.”
Contrary to what happened in Tehran and Alborz in recent days, Shiraz security forces and judicial officers have not yet visited Bahman Jafari's family, and it is still unclear whether their son will be among those to be offered martyrdom status, and whether the family will receive “blood money” to help compensate for the loss of their loved one."Mother Behjat, Bahman's mother, is still in shock and has not shed a single tear. I don't think they will accept such a proposal. Behjat says she just wants to know who did this to her son.”
Bahman Reza's friend said he was "a calm and good kid’ and that his murder “has shocked everyone." The family is planning a memorial in the mosque 40 days after his death, although they have not yet booked a place or made any special arrangements. They hope to get more information before then, and hope that someone will be able to tell them and give them some sense of peace. Authorities wrote on his death certificate that Bahman Reza Jafari had died after a collision with a hard object, but the family and Bahman’s friend say this doesn’t make any sense. “What does this mean?” the friend asked. “They shot at Bahman to kill him, and they killed him."