On October 24, a video published on Persian-language media showed Iranian police using tear gas and an electroshock weapon on a man who was handcuffed to a pole and could not move. The video was shared widely on social media such as Telegram, with users calling the man “Iran’s George Floyd”. In the aftermath of the video, the man died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.
The recent pattern of Iranian police violence intensified with the death of this man in Mashhad, in northeast Iran, on October 24 after “shame parades” of suspected criminals took place in several cities over the last few weeks.
The victim was 30-year-old Mehrdad Sepehri. According to Iranian media, his wife’s family called the police after a family disagreement. When police arrived, they handcuffed Sepehri to a pole and continued to harass him even though he posed no threat, as seen in this video.
Sepehri became unconscious on the way from the police station to the hospital and was pronounced dead in the ambulance. The cause of death is not yet confirmed.
After this video was shared online, many Iranian users began to call Mehrdad Sepehri the “Iranian George Floyd” on social media. The reaction intensified after another video, showing the victim’s body in a morgue with several bruises all over his body, was published.
Following the backlash, Iran’s state broadcaster rushed to help the Iranian police justify the death. In several reports, Iran’s state television presented the victim as violent, despite evidence shown in the video online.
Meanwhile, Mashhad’s military prosecutor announced on October 25 that the victim’s family has filed a suit against the police officer. He has been arrested and an investigation has been opened into the case.
Read more : ‘Iran’s Hidden Slaughter’: a video investigation
This has been the third incidence of police violence in Iran in the last three weeks. On two separate occasions, Iranian police have killed men in the process of arresting them in Esfarayen and in Shahriar.
While videos showing police violence in Iran are not rare, the persecution of the offender often is.
In some cases, officers might even be praised by police for their use of force, as seen in the beating of a young girl for “immoral behavior” in June 2019.