After Withholding Information, Authorities say Youth Demonstrator Died of Gunshot Wounds
Campaign demands investigation in a case emblematic of deceit, confusion and fear surrounding the disappeared in Iran
(12 July 2009) Iranian authorities have informed the family of Sohrab Aarabi, 19, that he died of gunshot wounds to his heart, 26 days after he disappeared during a demonstration on 15 June, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported today.
Aarabi’s mother, Parvin Fahimi, a member of the Mothers for Peace organization, made numerous attempts to obtain information about his situation, taking his photograph to prisons, courts and other addresses. Finally, on 11 July, after the protests commemorating the “18 Tir” student demonstrations in 1999, the family was summoned by the Revolutionary Court and referred to the Investigatory Bureau (Agahi), and asked to identify Sohrab from among several photographs of corpses. According to family members interviewed by the Campaign, his body had arrived at the coroner’s office on 19 June, five days after his disappearance. Sohrab Aarabi was due to begin his university studies this year.
Aarabi died of a gun-shut wound on his heart but it is not clear if he was first injured and taken to a hospital and died later or that he died on the street on 15 June.
“If Sohrab was shot on the street on 15 June, why was it recorded by the coroner only on 19 June?” asked Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign.
“We are calling for an independent investigation and a full account of the causes of Sohrab Aarabi’s death, and appropriate follow-up by the Judiciary,” he said. “Such an investigation should also disclose why the authorities waited so long to tell a mother of her son’s death.”
The lack of transparency and calculated delay in releasing the information about Aarabi’s unexplained death only raises anxieties about scores of others who are among the disappeared as well as those who have been held in incommunicado detention, with no contact to family members or lawyers, many for almost a month. An additional approximately 190 persons were arrested following the most recent demonstrations on 9 July.
“Many families fear they will also be told their loved ones were killed in the demonstrations, and will be left to wonder if it is the truth, “ Ghaemi said. “Indeed, the families of the disappeared are suffering from a form of torture because of the absence of credible information.”