Author: Ershad Alijani

Another video of police violence in the Islamic Republic: ‘Iran’s George Floyd’

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 …

Afghan Police published US Marines video presented as their army striking the Taliban

On October 12, the Afghan National Police posted a video on Facebook that they said showed Afghan helicopters bombing Taliban positions in Helmand province. The conflict between the Afghan Army and the Taliban in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan has been intensifying since October 9. Both sides are using social media to show off what they perceive to be their military successes. But it seems like the Afghan police were a little too quick to post one particular video that they said showed the army striking Taliban positions. Turns out this video shows, in reality, a training exercise carried out by the United States Marine Corps in Arizona, USA, in 2017. The video, which was later picked up by numerous Afghan media outlets, was filmed in night vision mode and shows a helicopter bombing a compound. On the Facebook page of the Afghan National Police, the video garnered more than 20,000 views. The Afghan National Police posted this video along with the caption “Last night, Helmand was turned into a cemetery for the Taliban”. The …

How Iranian police publicly shame suspected criminals

In a video posted online on October 7, Iranian police humiliate suspected criminals in the middle of the street, forcing them to yell out, “Forgive me! I won’t do it again”, and repeat insulting statements about themselves in front of a crowd. The growing number of public shamings are just one example of how the Iranian police are flexing their muscles, to the detriment of human rights, and acting outside the judicial system. This video shows armed men in ski masks beating up five men in the back of a pick-up truck as hundreds of people watch. The masked men are Iranian police officers and the men they are publicly humiliating were arrested on suspicion of committing violent crimes. The scene took place on Jomhouri Avenue, one of the main streets in Tehran. Eyewitnesses filmed the scene and posted it on Twitter. The footage shows a large crowd watching what happens from the side of the street, many of them filming with their cellphones. According to Tehran police, these five men were accused of having …

Violence, suicide and addiction: an unprecedented economic crisis plunges Iranian society into chaos

Videos of fights breaking out in front of supermarkets or currency exchange offices in Iran have become so common on social media over the past few years that many people don’t even find them surprising anymore. These fraught scenes illustrate the stress caused by the economic downturn that has swept the country, accompanied by rampant inflation and currency devaluation. Experts and observers describe an unprecedented crisis that has led to violence and significant psychological distress amongst those fighting to stay afloat. Every day, large crowds gather in front of currency exchange offices in the capital, Tehran, and other Iranian cities. The people in these queues are hoping to preserve their meager savings by converting them into US dollars, as their own currency rapidly devalues. Fights are common amongst those scrambling for a place in line. The video below, shared on social media on September 8, is one example. It shows a man and a woman fighting in front of a currency exchange office in the Eskan commercial center in northern Tehran. These incidents, which are …

Online videos falsely claim that face masks can cause CO2 poisoning

To wear a mask or not to, that is the question that has been fiercely debated online since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the claims made by opponents of the protective face coverings is that masks can lead to suffocation from the carbon dioxide (CO2) we exhale. Proponents of this theory have posted videos online in which they use gas detectors to claim that the amount of CO2 we breathe when wearing a mask is extremely dangerous. However, there is no factual basis for that claim. We take a closer look. In a flurry of videos posted online, social media users – most of them American – explain that wearing a mask can be dangerous for your health. To demonstrate this, they use a gas detector, which can be bought in a hardware store for somewhere between 40 and 100 euros, to “measure” the CO2 level inside their masks. In the videos, the meter goes wild when they start to breathe, indicating a high level of carbon dioxide in the space between …

Iran: 7-year-old boy is latest child to lose arm to crocodile while fetching water

A crocodile attack on a 7-year-old boy has refocused attention on the plight of villages in Iran’s southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan Province that lack running water. Residents say their children have no option but to fetch water from lakes and rivers, exposing them to the dangers of drowning and attacks by a species of marsh crocodile known locally as “gandos”. On Aug. 11, a 7-year-old boy named Amirhamzeh from the village of Houttag was attacked by a crocodile as he was fetching water for his family. His parents sent him to neighboring Pakistan for treatment, but the doctors were forced to amputate his left hand. While Iran does not publish statistics of crocodile attacks, locals say they are a regular occurrence. Last year a 9-year-old girl lost her arm in a crocodile attack, and an 8-year-old boy lost a leg. Sistan and Baluchistan is one of the most underdeveloped provinces of Iran, a poor region that shares 1100 km of border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many of the arid province’s villages are not connected to …

Pro-regime Iranians circulate fake video to promote the death sentence for three activists

Iran’s Supreme Court announced on July 10 that three men who had participated in protests against the government last November had been sentenced to death. Many people took to social media to protest the announcement, calling for the sentence to be overturned. At the same time, ultra-conservative supporters of the regime started circulating a video that they claimed showed the young activists carrying out violent armed robberies in an attempt to turn public opinion against them. In reality, the footage in this video is old and has nothing to do with the three accused men. UPDATED 20-07-2020: On July 19, the Iranian government suspended the execution of the three activists, Amirhossein Moradiyea, Saeed Tamjidi, and Mohammad Rajabi. The Iran Supreme Court accepted the request for a new trial that had been submitted by the defendants’ lawyers, Babak Paknia, one of the lawyers, informed AFP on Sunday. Last November, an increase in petrol prices sparked a nationwide protest movement in Iran, with demonstrations taking place in more than 200 towns and cities. The regime’s crackdown was …

As a second wave of Covid-19 sweeps Iran, “people aren’t respecting social distancing at all” (2/2)

A second wave of Covid-19 has been sweeping Iran since mid-May. My contacts say that even though hospitals are already overwhelmed with cases, Iranians are not adhering to basic preventative measures. They blame the government for reopening the country too quickly after the first wave and not responding fast enough to the latest crisis.

Second wave of Covid-19 sweeps Iran, ‘affecting the elderly, young and children’ (1/2)

While Europe has been slowly reopening after lockdowns meant to halt the spread of Covid-19, Iran is in the grips of a second deadly wave of the virus. Hospitals across the country are filling up and our Observers say, in some regions, they’ve already run out of beds. While the government is still reporting relatively low numbers of cases, our Observers say this just doesn’t reflect the situation on the ground. They report overwhelmed hospitals and towns plunging back into lockdown. Of the country’s 31 provinces, 14 have been declared coronavirus “red zones”, the most serious indicator.