A former Iranian national team soccer player has slammed authorities for their “silence” over the death of a man who celebrated the country’s World Cup loss to the United States earlier this week.
Mehran Samak, 27, died in the northern Iranian city of Bandar Anzali during public celebrations by anti-government protesters after Tuesday’s match – in which the United States beat Iran 1 -0 to qualify for the round of 16 of the competition.
The Norwegian monitoring group Iran Human Rights claimed, citing “several independent sources”, that he had been shot in the head by security agents.
Police, however, denied that he was killed by authorities and announced the arrest of several suspects in connection with his death, according to Iranian state media.
In a video circulating on social media on Saturday, Mohammad Ahmadzadeh, who played for Iran from 1988-1990 and coached Malavan FC from 2018-2020, challenged Bandar Anzali MP Ahmad Donyamali and asked accountability to city officials.
“Good morning to all my fellow Anzali people who are grieving because we have lost another youngster, Mehran Samak,” he said. “We have lost this loved one and all the people of Anzali are in mourning.”
“I don’t know what their crime was. I want to ask the city authorities – what was their crime? Is it a crime, punishable by death, to honk your horn or be happy for any reason? I want to ask Mr. Donyamali, who considers himself a representative of this city – why are you silent? Aren’t you a representative of this city? What reaction have you shown to events so far? »
The state-aligned Iranian Student News Agency reported on Thursday that Bandar Anzali’s prosecutor had opened an investigation into the “suspicious” murder.
Several videos were posted on social media on Tuesday evening showing residents of Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran, celebrating at home after the match.
“I’m happy, it’s the government that loses to the people,” a witness to the celebrations in a town in the Kurdish region told CNN on Wednesday. CNN is not naming the witness for security reasons.
Activist media outlet 1500tasvir also published videos showing security forces apparently opening fire on people in Behbahan on Tuesday night and beating a woman in Qazvin. Both towns are south of Bandar Anzali where Samak was allegedly shot.
CNN cannot independently confirm this information, as the Iranian government does not allow foreign media into the country and has not been transparent in its reporting on the protests and protest casualties.
Protests have rocked Iran for several months, triggering a deadly crackdown by the authorities.
The nationwide uprising was first sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in mid-September after being detained by the country’s vice police. Since then, protesters across Iran have coalesced around a series of grievances with the regime.