“God may not forgive the state TV reporter who has turned to an interrogator and then a judge, and issued a verdict within two minutes that devastated a family,” the father of Aylar Haqqi, a 23-year-old victim of the security forces’ brutal crackdown on nationwide protests, said while standing next to his daughter’s grave.
“People tell me to seek justice for her, but it’s impossible in a country where no one has any rights, so I left it to God.”
Aylar was killed on November 16 in the northwestern town of Tabriz, the capital of East Azerbaijan Province, with state media reporting she had lost her life after falling into a pit.
Fars news agency quoted a provincial emergency officer as saying, “At around 10:00 p.m., a fall into an excavation site was reported, and we arrived within 10 minutes. The victim was breathing, but she was unconscious and lying on her stomach, which was swollen, and she was bleeding internally.”
Ebrahim Mahmoudi, the head of the East Azarbaijan Province’s Intelligence Department, claimed that the medical student died in an “accident at the excavation site next to Shahran tower in Tabriz.”
The Family has a different Story
Aylar Haqqi’s uncle wrote on Instagram that she “was shot from a close distance and from behind with a shotgun” during a demonstration on November 16. She was buried two days later.
An hour before the start of the funeral, the official IRNA news agency published a video of her father in which he said her death had nothing to do with the recent “riots.”
On the same day, Radio Farda quoted a close relative as saying she was killed by a direct shot. The relative also confirmed that the student’s family is under pressure from the security agencies to say that Aylar died after falling from a height.
The Islamic Republic does not take responsibility for the killing of protesters by the security forces, saying that many of the deaths were caused by suicides, car crashes or other accidents.
On November 19, provincial chief prosecutor Babak Mehboob Alilu announced that three people were detained in connection with Aylar’s death.
According to Alilu, the victim didn’t know those detained. He claimed that one of them took Aylar in a car with the intention of taking her to her house, but he instead dropped her off near Shahran tower, far from her home.
“This lady fell into the pit while passing by the excavation site created by the Shahran tower project,” he said.
The official narrative regarding Aylar’s death is similar to what officials reported about Nika Shakrami, a 16-year-old teenager who disappeared on September 20 during an anti-government protest in Tehran. Her family found her body in a morgue outside the capital after spending days looking for her. The Islamic Republic claimed she fell from a rooftop, a scenario rejected by Nika’s aunt.
Why is her father angry at state TV?
On November 26, state TV broadcast a report about Aylar that included footage showing a woman getting out of a car, but not her face. The reporter said Aylar fell into the pit.
The report summarized the alleged testimony of a person described as a “friend” of Aylar, saying, “According to the confession of the person with whom Aylar was taken to Shahran tower, this young girl told her family she was going to the gym. Aylar and two male companions consumed alcoholic drinks, and Aylar was not balanced when she returned.”
The report claimed that images from CCTV cameras at Shahran tower clearly show that Aylar “is not balanced and is staggering due to the large consumption of alcoholic beverages.” This footage was not broadcast in the report.
In the report, one suspect claimed that he found Aylar near Shahran tower and took her in a car with the intention of taking her home.
Aylar’s father’s words during the ceremony marking the 40th day since her death suggest the young woman was killed by police.
In a speech at his daughter’s grave, he said the family had not been able to have their child’s personal belongings returned, including her “clothes, shoes and phone.”