Mehran Samak: Former Iran national football team player challenges authorities’ ‘silence’ after death of man celebrating World Cup defeat



CNN

A former Iran national football team player has criticized authorities for their “silence” over the death of a man who celebrated the country’s defeat to the United States at the World Cup earlier this week.

Mehran Samak, 27, died in the northern Iran town of Bandar Anzali during public celebrations by anti-government protesters after Tuesday’s match – in which the US beat Iran 1-0 to advance to the knockout stages of the competition.

Norway-based watchdog group Iran Human Rights has claimed, citing “several independent sources”, that he was shot in the head by security personnel.

However, police have denied that he was killed by authorities and, according to Iranian state media, have announced the arrests of several suspects in connection with his death.

In a video circulating on social media on Saturday, Mohammad Ahmadzadeh, who played for Iran from 1988 to 1990 and coached Malavan FC from 2018 to 2020, challenged Bandar Anzali’s MP Ahmad Donyamali and called for accountability from city officials.

“Hello to all my Anzali fellows who have been deprived because we have lost another young person, Mehran Samak,” he said. “We have lost this precious one and all the people of Anzali have been deprived.”

‘I don’t know what their crime was. I want to ask the authorities of the city: what was their crime? Is it a crime, punishable by death, to honk or be happy for any reason? I want to ask Mr. Donyamali, who considers himself a representative of this city, why are you silent? Are you not a representative of this city? What reaction have you shown to the events so far?”

The state-affiliated Iran Students’ News Agency reported Thursday that Bandar Anzali’s prosecutor had opened a case into the “suspect” murder.

Several videos were posted to social media on Tuesday evening showing people in cities across Iran, including the capital Tehran, celebrating at home after the game.

“I am happy, this is the government losing to the people,” a witness to celebrations in a town in the Kurdish region told CNN on Wednesday. CNN is not naming the witness for security reasons.

Activist outlet 1500tasvir also posted videos of security forces, reportedly Tuesday evening, opening fire on people in Behbahan and beating up a woman in Qazvin. Both towns are south of Bandar Anzali, where Samak is said to have been shot.

CNN cannot independently confirm the information, as the Iranian government does not allow foreign media into the country and has not been transparent in its coverage of protests and protest victims.

Demonstrations rocked Iran for several months, leading to 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 squad. Since then, protesters across Iran have united over a range of grievances with the regime.

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