Iran Killed for Celebrating FIFA World Cup Loss to USA: Rights Groups

An Iranian man has been shot dead by security forces after celebrating as the United States eliminated his country’s national team from the World Cup, human rights groups said on Wednesday. Iran was kicked out of the World Cup in Qatar by the United States on Tuesday night, prompting mixed reactions from supporters and anti-regime supporters. Many have refused to support the national team in the face of the government’s bloody crackdown on protests that have dragged on for more than two months over the death of Mahsa Amini while in custody.

Mehran Samak, 27, was shot dead after honking his car in Bandar Anzali, a city on the Caspian coast northwest of Tehran, human rights groups said.

Samak “was directly targeted and shot in the head by security forces… after the national team’s defeat to the US”, the Oslo-based Iran Human Rights (IHR) organization said.

The New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) also reported that he was killed by security forces while celebrating. There was no immediate comment on the incident from Iranian authorities.

In an extraordinary turn, Iran’s midfielder Saeid Ezatolahiwho played in the US match and is from Bandar Anzali, revealed that he knows Samak and posted a picture of them together on a youth team.

“After the bitter loss last night, the news of your passing burned my heart,” Ezatolahi wrote on Instagram, describing Samak as a “childhood teammate”.

He did not comment on the circumstances of his friend’s death but said: “One day the masks will fall off, the truth will be exposed.”

He added: “This is not what our youth deserve. This is not what our country deserves.” Ezatolahi, upset with the result, was seen after the final whistle and comforted by both his teammates and the American players.

Stressful funeral

The Iran team has been under close scrutiny at the World Cup, not singing the national anthem in their first match but doing so in the next two, amid reports of pressure from the authorities failing to show support for the protests.

CHRI released a video from Samak’s funeral on Wednesday, where mourners can be heard shouting “Die the dictator”. The slogan aimed at Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was one of the main slogans of the protests that erupted after Amini’s death while in custody on September 16.

The IHR said authorities had refused to hand over the body to the family, while BBC Persian said the funeral in Bandar Anzali had taken place without prior notice and with a heavy security presence. to avoid major problems.

Iranian security forces have killed at least 448 people in a crackdown on protests, including 60 children under the age of 18 and 29 women, according to the IHR. An Iranian general said on Monday that more than 300 people have been killed in the unrest.

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