Parents of Iranian woman killed during protests ‘tortured by security forces’ | Iran | Techno Glob

The parents of an Iranian woman who was shot dead while filming protests in her hometown face an ongoing harassment campaign by security forces, a relative told the Guardian.

Ghazaleh Chalabi, 33, was shot in the head on September 27 in Amol. A commemoration of the 40th day of her death – the end of the traditional mourning period in Islam – will be held on Thursday.

Her death was particularly shocking because footage of her protest on her phone at the time she was shot was preserved and uploaded to social media. Her last words were: “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid.”

The moment Iranian protester Ghazaleh Chalabi was killed while filming a demonstration – video

An aunt of Chalabi said in an interview that her niece had been in a coma for five days before her death. “She was shot in the front,” the relative said. “She had a small hole on her forehead. The bullet exited the back of her head leaving a hole the size of a tangerine in the back of her head.”

The aunt said that while Chalabi was in a coma, her parents were repeatedly harassed by security forces who threatened to withhold her body and bury her in an undisclosed location “if they make a sound”. Security forces threatened to retaliate against Chalabi’s brother, saying she would feel like a martyr if the parents spoke up and rejected Chalabi’s wish to donate her organs, she said.

It characterizes the intimidation tactics used by security services to quell protests that have been ongoing across the country for weeks since Mahsa Amini’s death in police custody on September 16.

The protests have raised the boldest challenge in decades to Iran’s clerics, who have sought to blame Iran’s foreign enemies and their “agents” for the unrest, and frustrated officials that few Iranians believe.

Security services have launched a ferocious crackdown: At least 253 people, including 34 Iranians under 18, have been killed and several thousand arrested, many taken to special detention centers run by the Revolutionary Guards, according to a human rights organization.

On Tuesday, university students started a sit-in strike in support of some of the protests, defying stern warnings and bloody crackdowns by elite security forces.

Chalabi’s aunt said her niece had not been a regular participant in rallies and protests before Amini’s death, “but then … she couldn’t keep quiet”.

On the night of her death, her aunt said, there was a fire in front of the governor’s building.

“It was only a few minutes after the fire started when the first aerial shots were fired. Then that [the security forces] started shooting directly at people,” the aunt said. “Some witnesses told us that she was shot from the roof of the governor’s building. Ghazale was hit on the forehead and immediately fell on the ground.

“According to a trusted doctor, three or four more people were shot at Amol and died instantly that night. 300 to 350 people were arrested that night.

“Many people witnessed the moment when Ghazaleh was shot.”

Some protesters have called on Western governments to impose sanctions on police chiefs in provincial cities where verified killings have occurred. The value of sanctions such as asset freezes and travel bans is disputed, as many Iranian security officials have no assets abroad and have no intention of traveling to the West.

Chalabi, who had a bachelor’s degree in banking, was on her 34th birthday when she died. In her spare time, she enjoyed hiking or discovering new novels. Her aunt said she loved friends and loved life. Along with her brother, she is survived by her mother, who works for a charity for cancer patients, and her father, a municipal employee.

Ahead of Thursday’s 40-day commemoration, Ghazaleh’s brother wrote of his “beautiful sister”: “40 years on I still can’t believe you’re gone.”

A close family friend said: “In the last weeks of her life, she kept sending photos of street protests to her friends and family. She was sending pictures of herself no longer wearing a headscarf.

“In the last days of her life, she was talking to people on the streets about these protests. She encouraged everyone not to be silent. She had never been more fearless in her life. There was something in her eyes as if she wanted to show her courage.

“There were a lot of plainclothes officers at her burial site and they were filming to scare people. So far, the intelligence service has called her family and threatened them over the phone.”

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