Mothers of Iran Protest Victims Call for “Minute of Silence,” UN Fact-Finding Committee
Sixteen mothers whose children were killed amid violent state crackdowns on street protests have called for Iranians to observe a minute of silence for the victims on December 26, 2019.
“We, the mothers, will not remain silent,” they said in a statement published on December 17, 2019, that also called on Iranian authorities to allow the UN to visit the country to establish a fact-finding committee on rights violations that were committed while major street demonstrations ravaged the country in November 2019.
“We, the mothers of grief-stricken families who have lost our children in the path of freedom and justice during the past 40 years, call on the noble and freedom-hearted people of Iran to observe a minute of silence on December 26… to pay respect to those who fell victim in the month of November.”
At least 304 people were killed in Iran between November 15-18, 2019, after protests in response to a sudden gasoline price hike erupted in dozens of cities throughout the country, according to Amnesty International. Thousands were also injured and arrested, including children as young as 15.
“For how long will all these arrests, tortures and crimes go on? We are determined to seek justice!” said the mothers’ statement translated from Persian into English by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). Following is an excerpt of the statement:
Our children in Iran, who came to the streets to seek freedom and a better life as human beings, were killed by state forces. In mid-November 2019, the people, fed up with oppression, poverty, discrimination and injustice, came to the streets in various cities to protest. To silence their voices, the state responded by firing direct bullets and cutting off the connection to the world through the internet.
Unfortunately, hundreds of people, including more than 10 children, were killed in these protests while several thousand were arrested and are currently being tortured. Even children under the age of 18 have not been shown mercy.
We will honor the memory of our loved ones in any way possible and condemn these crimes. We call on the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Iran to visit the country and establish a fact-finding committee with the victims’ families in order to investigate the extent of this tragedy, and find the exact number of those killed, injured and detained as well as identify those responsible for these crimes.
We believe these atrocities are blatant examples of crimes against humanity and those directly responsible should be held accountable in an open international trial in order to prevent such crimes from being repeated.
The statement was signed by 16 mothers of recent and past victims of state violence including Nahid Shirpisheh, the mother of 27-year-old Pouya Bakhtiari, who was killed by a bullet during a protest in Karaj on November 16, and Shahnaz Akmali, who has been seeking justice for her son Mostafa Karim Beigi, killed in Tehran during a 2009 protest.
Akmali was summoned to Evin Prison earlier this month to serve a one-year prison sentence for her peaceful activism. “When I was being interrogated, they told me to forget I ever had a son,” she tweeted on December 5, 2019, with a copy of the summons. “I said I can’t forget… “Today I have sons and daughters throughout Iran.”
Manouchehr Bakhtiari, Pouya Bakhriari’s father, supported the call by posting a photo of himself with his son on Instagram and encouraging people to observe the minute of silence on December 26.
Read this article in Persian.