According to human rights organizations, Mehran Samak was killed by security personnel after honking his car horn in celebration of Iran’s victory over the US.
After Iran’s national team lost to the US and was eliminated from the World Cup, anti-government protests were taking place inside and outside the stadium in Qatar as well as throughout Iran when security officers shot and killed an Iranian citizen.
Human rights campaigners claim that Mehran Samak, 27, was shot dead after blaring his automobile horn in Bandar Anzali, a city on the Caspian Sea coast north of Tehran.
Following the national team’s loss to America, Samak “was directly targeted and shot in the head by security forces,” according to the Oslo-based organization Iran Human Rights (IHR).
The fight between the two nations, which cut diplomatic ties more than 40 years ago, took place against a backdrop of deadly repression in Iran following protests sparked by Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, who died in detention in September, who had been the target of those protests.
According to IHR, the security forces in Iran have murdered at least 448 individuals during their repression of the protests, including 60 minors under the age of 18 and 29 women.
In an amazing turn of events, Iranian international midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi, who represented Iran against the United States and is from Bandar Anzali, claimed that he knew Samak and shared a photo of the two of them playing childhood football.
After Sunday night’s heartbreaking loss, Ezatolahi said on Instagram, “The news of your passing lit fire to my heart,” referring to Samak as a “childhood teammate.”
The circumstances behind his friend’s passing were not discussed, although he did say: “Some day the masks will fall, and the truth will be revealed.”
“This is not what our youth deserve,” he continued. Our country does not deserve this.
After the final whistle, Ezatolahi, who was upset by the outcome, was seen receiving consolation from both his colleagues and the US athletes.
After the game on Tuesday night, a video posted on social media showed people shouting and lighting off fireworks, even though many Iranians had declined to support the national team.
Samak was killed by the security forces while celebrating, according to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI). On Wednesday, CHRI released a video of Samak’s funeral in Tehran, in which mourners could be heard screaming. “Death to the tyrant.” One of the primary protest chants is directed toward Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the top leader of Iran.
Masih Alinejad, an exiled Iranian journalist, tweeted celebration footage late on Tuesday and stated: “Iran is a nation where people are passionate about football. They are currently celebrating the defeat of their football team against the US in the streets of Sanandaj. She additionally shared a video of fireworks being set off in Mahsa Amini’s hometown of Saqqez.
Iranians also celebrated in Marivan, one of the Kurdish-populated cities in western Iran where, on November 21, security forces stepped up a crackdown that resulted in the deaths of 12 people in less than 24 hours, according to rights organizations. Security forces used heavy weapons and opened fire on protesters, the groups said.
Celebrations were also held in Tehran and Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan.
Fans outside the stadium in Doha attempted to draw attention to the demonstrations and the crackdown by the Iranian government before the celebrations. “Everyone needs to be aware of this. We don’t have a voice in Iran, a resident of Iran who now calls the US Sam told Reuters.
A few minutes before the game began, Elham, 21, said she wanted the US to win over Iran because success for the national team, known as Team Melli, would be a present for the Iranian government. Not my national team, this. It is the mullahs’ team, not the Melli team, she declared.
Tehran and Sanandaj, the Kurdistan region’s capital, is also celebrated.
Before the festivities, supporters outside the stadium in Doha made an effort to call attention to the protests and the Iranian government’s repression. “This needs to be known by everyone. A resident of Iran who now calls the US says, “We don’t have a voice in Iran.” Sam spoke to Reuters.
Elham, 21, stated just before kickoff that she wanted the US to defeat Iran since victory for the national team, Team Melli, would be a gift for the Iranian leadership. This is not my national team. Not the Melli team, she proclaimed, but the team of the mullahs.
After the game, Reuters journalists observed security chasing two individuals in a series of altercations around the stadium’s perimeter. One man, who was sporting a T-shirt bearing the keyphrase of the Iranian protest movement—”woman, life, freedom”—was pinned to the ground by three guards.
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