January 31, 2023

Raven Tribune

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Killed by police?: Iranians celebrating World Cup final may have been shot dead

Killed by the police?
Iranians celebrating the end of the World Cup may have been shot dead

Iran has narrowly exited the first round of the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Qatar. For many Iranians, this is a reason to celebrate, but joy in times of violence costs at least one person their life.

Human rights groups say a man has been killed in Iran celebrating the exit of the Iranian national team from the World Cup in Qatar. Iran Human Rights (IHR), an Oslo-based human rights group, said on Wednesday that 27-year-old Mehran Samak was shot in the head by security forces after the US defeat. Several Twitter users wrote that police officers belonging to the local authorities shot dead. The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) confirmed that Samak was killed by security forces while celebrating Samaq.

America’s nemesis Iran pulled out of the tournament in Qatar on Tuesday, prompting both disappointment and gleeful reactions at home. Many Iranians have refused to support their national team over the country’s violent crackdown on protests over the past two months. According to human rights groups, before he was shot in the town of Bandar Anzali on the Caspian Sea, Chamak honked his horn in his car and celebrated defeat.

“Masks Fall”

Iran international Saeed Esadolahi, who played 90 minutes against the United States and who, like the shot man, is from Bandar Anjali, said on Instagram that he had known Samak since childhood: “After a bitter loss last night, the news of your death hit me. My heart is on fire,” the 47-time international said of his “baby”. He wrote about the youth team. He would not comment on the circumstances of his friend’s death, but said “one day the masks will fall and the truth will come out.” He added, “This is not what our youth deserve, this is not what our nation deserves.”

During the match, Iranian fans protested against the regime at home inside and outside the stadium. Danish reporter Rasmus Dantold published shocking images of injured Iranian fans after the game. They were attacked by Iranian regime thugs under the watchful eyes of local police.

On Tuesday evening, Masih Alinejad, an exiled journalist from Iran, posted videos of the celebrations on Twitter and wrote: “Iran is a country with a passion for football. Now in Sanandaj they have taken to the streets and lost their party. Their football team to America.”

Iran has been rocked by waves of nationwide protests since mid-September. The trigger was the death of Mahza Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman in police custody – who was arrested by paramedics after allegedly wearing a headscarf improperly. Authorities continue to crack down on protesters. According to the IHR, at least 448 people were killed by security forces, and the military says more than 300 died. The Iranian national team decided not to sing the national anthem before their first World Cup match against England – probably as a sign of solidarity with their protesting compatriots. Due to this, the family members of the players were allegedly threatened and pressured. In the following games, players lipped in visible discomfort during the anthem.

Many Iranians refused to support the national team because a successful performance in Qatar would be considered a gift by the Iranian authorities.

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