“They Tell Me to Take Back My Complaint to Close the Case,” Says Murdered Protester’s Wife
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the wife of a protester who was murdered during the 2009 post-election protests talked in detail about the continued pressure on her aimed at concealing the truth about her husband’s death. Massoumeh Chegini, wife of Moharram Chegini, told the Campaign about the pressure put on her for interviewing with the state broadcasting organization, IRIB; the lack of accountability by authorities for finding her husband’s murderers; and the threats made on her. Speaking about pressure put on her by authorities to abandon her pursuit of her husband’s murder case, she said: “Why should I keep silent? Can things get any worse than this? I have become uprooted. My youth has been wasted. What else do they want from me?”
“In response to the judge who says the perpetrator has not been seen, and instead of introducing my husband’s murderer offers me to forfeit my claim and settle on receiving diya [blood money], I say the man who was shooting at people from a rooftop was seen by all, how come you consider him ‘unseen?’ I know who poured bullets on people’s heads, how come you don’t know who poured those bullets?,” Chegini told the Campaign.
Massoumeh Chegini talked about pressure on the Chegini family to grant an interview to Islamic Republic of Iran’s Broadcasting (IRIB). “I was uprooted for five, six months. I had no homestead. I was staying with my in-laws. A
few days after my husband’s death, several people came there and filmed us and our home and asked me: ‘What did your husband do for a living?, What kinds of political activities did he have?’ I said: ‘My husband wasn’t political. He was working from dawn to dusk, searching for a livelihood,'” she said.
“When the camera was rolling, they said that ‘a group of rioters took advantage during the days after the elections and killed your husband.’ I asked them: Who gave them bullets with which to kill people? Why should a group of rioters kill my husband? What kind of animosity did they have with my husband? How did they know that my husband was on the street and they should murder him?,'” she added.
Massoumeh Chegini described her efforts to find her husband’s murderer. “Recently I went back to the court again to file a complaint, demanding that my husband’s murderer be introduced. They said the file wasn’t there. After a whole year they say the file is lost! How come if another person had committed a murder they would treat him differently? Why doesn’t anyone answer my questions after a whole year? Whose bullet was it? Who shot it? Why did they kill my husband so unfairly? They want to pay the diya and for me to accept it, so that this case ends, but I will not do such a thing! What was our sin? What crime did I commit to have this life at the age of 30? Who will fight for our rights? Who will answer me?,” she told the Campaign.
Moharram Chegini’s wife talked about the way her late husband’s body was delivered to the family by the authorities. “My husband was murdered at Azadi Square. His body was abandoned at Andisheh Square. What if animals had attacked his body?! His entire body was purple. His shoulder bone was broken. His death was a big blow, but seeing that corpse! What was my crime to have to face a life like this? I don’t have a father. I had a hard time coming up with the money it took to bury my husband. A whole year later, I have started receiving some money from his social security–$100 a month,” added Chegini.
Moharram Chegini, born on 1 August 1975, was murdered on Monday, June 15, 2009. He was shot while looking up at the roof of the Meghdad Basij Base on Azadi Street. A bullet entered his cheek and exited through the back of his head, hitting his shoulder. He was first taken to Rassoul Akram Hospital. His body disappeared for seven days until Ali Chegini, Moharram’s brother, received a phone call from the Shahriar [a township outside Tehran] Medical Examiner’s Office to appear at the Medical Examiner’s Office to identify his body. At the Medical Examiner’s Office, his family was shown a video of the discovery of his corpse along with three other bodies on the streets in Shahriar’s Andisheh neighborhood. This was very strange to Moharram’s brother, as he had received a videotape of Moharram’s death just a few days after his death. According to Massoumeh Chegini, the day the family buried Moharram, they were contacted by someone from the Tehran Provincial Governor’s Office who asked them not to tell the press about the location of his burial site. Moharram Chegini’s brother announced the news about Moharram’s death to the media seven months later.
Immediately after they take custody of Moharram’s body at the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Chegini family filed a suit, but their suit has not been reviewed yet.
Moharram Chegini’s wife is appalled by the way the authorities interacted with his family and the way his corpse was delivered to the family. “Why should it be like this? A human being went to the street, he said some things, he protested to something, let’s assume he demanded his vote. Did he deserve such treatment? I went to Rassoul Hospital to look for my husband. When I showed them his photograph, they told me that eight people had been murdered and Intelligence forces had taken the bodies with them! There was no news about him
from Monday through Thursday. Finally they showed a photograph from Kahrizak and said, ‘This is an anonymous corpse which we found in Shahriar, you must come here to identify it.’ Even after we identified him, they would not let us have his body,” Massoumeh Chegini told the Campaign.
Massoumeh Chegini went to Kahrizak Detention Center after the elections. “When I went to Kahrizak, watching other people’s anguish, I forgot my own. There was a man sitting there. He said: ‘In all of this world, I had this one son. His mother told him that the streets were crowded, and that she would go to the university with him. He was going to the university with his mother when he was shot on the way.’ He was told that he had to take delivery of the corpse and to take it directly to the Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery. He kept telling them: ‘Give
me my son’s body. I want to bury it wherever I like.’ This was just one of the instances I saw there. There were thousands like me there,” she told the Campaign.