Interview with mother of Yaghoub Barvayeh shot by Basij forces before his death
Yaghoub was shot in the head and was in coma before his death. This interview was conducted by the Persian internet daily, Rooz Online, with his mother a day before his death. Yaghoub died in Loghman-e Hakim Hospital in Tehran on 25 June 2009.
My son lies motionless on the bed
Interview by Parastoo Sepehri
Yaghoub Barvayeh, a graduate student in the School of Fine Arts and Architecture at the University of Tehran, was shot and wounded by the Basij militia last week, and was hospitalized in the ICU section of the Loghman-e-Hakim hospital. This is an interview with his mother. She says “You have to be a mother to understand my feelings”.
Where are you from?
We are from Ahwaz, but my son lives in Tehran to pursue his graduate degree.
What is your son’s field of study?
He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tehran’s School of Fine Arts and Architecture and now he is a first year graduate student in performing arts.
How many siblings does Yaghoub have?
Yaghoub was born in July 1982 and he is my second son. He has an elder brother, Yasser, and a younger sister, Yalda.
What were the circumstances of Yaghoub’s shooting?
I’d been following the news and I was aware of the post-election turmoil in Tehran. I knew that the capital had become a very dangerous place. Of course, the danger was only for young people like Yaghoub and not for others so much. Me, my husband and my daughter repeatedly called my son, giving him our advice to stay safe. We constantly checked on him at any moment to know where he is and whom he is with.
Did Yaghoub show any sign of dissatisfaction or protest regarding the recent events?
This behavior is of course very common and widespread in the society these days. Election related repression existed since before the election day to right now that we are talking. Yaghoub, however, has never been a kind of person that would react unreasonably or excessively to this sort of incident. Knowing him in this regard, I didn’t come to Tehran to look after him in this way, otherwise I would have. I am pretty sure that my Yaghoub had not gone out to the streets to protest. His friends confirm this too.
Who was he with on the day of the accident?
Yaghoub’s two friends, Reza and Tavana, were accompanying him. They were with him when he got shot.
Where were they walking towards?
After rehearsing a play in the school theater, on the corner of Palestine Street, they were headed to Enghelaab Square via their regular route. Reza and Tavana say they were trying to avoid the crowds by choosing the simplest and closest route but the police officers detoured people to the nearby streets and they were eventually lead to the side of the Navvab Street, next to Jomhouri Square. Suddenly everywhere gets crowded and the riot police and Basij militia start to disperse people by threatening and scaring them. The behavior of these agents makes people panic and they start to resist. Agents start shooting and right at that time my son gets shot in front of the Lolagar Mosque.
According to Yaghoub’s Friends, who fired the shot?
Some Basiji members positioned on the roof of Lolagar mosque fired the shot. There were five of them there and they have martyred several people. Today my son is in critical condition. I hope nothing bad happens to him. Otherwise, as his mother, I will never forgive anyone responsible for this. Yaghoub is the fruit of my family’s endeavors for growth and progress, and he is our pride. It’s been a week now that he is at the special care section of Loghman hospital and none of the government officials have come to visit him. My son had no role in the disturbances and he has been unjustly injured. I will do anything necessary for him to recover. I know that today many families are suffering from the same misfortune. I pray for them and wish them and my son health.
Which part of Yaghoub’s body was shot?
How was Yaghoub transferred to the hospital?
He was surrounded by people for a while, without any medical care. After ten minutes, an ambulance arrives and takes him to the hospital.
The picture of your son was shown several times on various TV channels, but the Iranian state-run media did not show him at all. What do you think about this?
People’s opinion in these circumstances is clear and obvious. I am sorry that my son is shown in foreign media in this condition. I saw him once on a foreign TV channel. The first time I saw his picture, my heat broke of course, and I felt empty inside. You have to be a mother to understand my feelings.
What is the doctors’ diagnosis?
They are diligently caring for him. The police is also constantly beside us in the hospital, and they don’t give us any explanation for this. They’ve questioned me and my husband several times, mainly about Yaghoub’s relations and his friends and what he has been up to. In this condition, they are trying to find an excuse to justify what they have done. I’m not afraid of anyone and I say my words honestly. Just pray for my son to regain his health. He lies on the hospital bed, motionless.