An Iranian man was shot dead by security forces after celebrating the United States’ elimination of the Iranian national team at the World Cup, human rights groups said on Wednesday. Iran’s elimination from the World Cup by the United States in Qatar on Tuesday night drew mixed reactions from pro- and anti-regime supporters. Many have refused to support the national team in response to a bloody government crackdown on more than two months of protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death in custody.
Mehran Samak, 27, was shot dead after honking his horn in the Caspian city of Bandar Anzali, northwest of Tehran, human rights groups said.
The Oslo-based Iranian Human Rights Organization (IHR) said Samak was “directly targeted and shot in the head by security forces after the national team’s defeat against the United States”.
The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) also reported that he was killed by security forces while celebrating. Iranian authorities had no immediate comment on the incident.
In an extraordinary twist, the Iran international’s midfielder Syed EzatorahiBandar Anzali, who played in the US match, revealed that he knew Samak and posted a photo of them on the youth football team.
“After last night’s tragic loss, the news of your passing ignites my heart,” Ezzatollahi said on Instagram, describing Samak as a “childhood teammate.”
He did not comment on the cause of his friend’s death, but said: “One day the mask will come off and the truth will come out.”
“This is not what our young people deserve. This is not what our country deserves,” he added. Distraught by the result, Ezatolahi was comforted by his teammates and the American players after the final whistle.
Iran, which has come under intense scrutiny at the World Cup, did not sing the national anthem in their first game but did so in the next two games amid reports that authorities were pressuring Iran not to play the protests. He expressed support.
CHRI released a video of Samak’s funeral on Wednesday, in which mourners can be heard chanting “death to the dictator.” The chants against Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were among the main chants of the protests that erupted after Amini’s death in prison on Sept. 16.
IHR said authorities refused to hand over the remains to the family, while BBC Persian said the funeral in Bandar Anzali was held without prior notice and with a heavy security presence to avoid a major incident.
Iranian security forces have killed at least 448 people, including 60 children under the age of 18 and 29 women, in a crackdown on protests, IHR reported. An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people had been killed in the unrest.
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