“I really hope that in a few years, after everything has changed, I will be glad to have attended this protest,” 22-year-old Iranian Hadis Najafi said in a self-recorded video as she prepared to take to the streets bring to.
Shortly after Najafi recorded the message on her phone, she was killed while attending a September 21 street protest in Karaj, outside Tehran.
According to Amnesty International, security forces repeatedly bird shot her at close range in the face, neck and chest.
Najafi was one of dozens of people who rights groups say were killed in the crackdown on Iranian security forces’ protests that broke out over the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
The protests have broken taboos in Iran, with anti-regime slogans and women taking off their headscarves. But security forces have hit back with a deadly force that Amnesty says has raised concerns about an intent to kill protesters.
In a video captured by her grieving family, Najafi’s sister showed the blood-covered backpack that was recovered after she was shot.
“Because of Mahsa Amini, she got up and walked out,” she said. “We lost Hadis and we are not afraid of anything.”
Her distraught mother added: “My daughter was murdered because of hijab, for Mahsa Amini. She lost her life for Mahsa. She wanted to keep Mahsa’s name alive.”
– “On the Front Line” –
Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) says over 90 people were killed in the raid, including seven women, while Amnesty says it has confirmed the names of 52 of those killed, including five women, one girl and five boys.
The women killed had no prior experience of political activism and, according to relatives, took to the streets in a movement they believed offered an unprecedented glimmer of hope.
“Women were at the forefront of this movement and the very first protest was organized by Kurdish women,” Roya Boroumand, executive director of the Washington-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, told AFP.
The funeral of Iranian Kurdish woman Amini in her hometown of Saqqez in Kurdistan province was marked by the first protests when women took off their headscarves despite the Islamic Republic’s strict dress code.
“And they (the security forces) killed without hesitation. They didn’t even wait for the movement to get out of hand to shoot,” Boroumand added.
Minoo Majidi, 62, was killed by a shot fired by security forces during a protest on September 20 in the Kurdish-populated city of Kermanshah, northwest Iran, according to the Norway-based Hengaw rights group.
In a striking image of defiance, one of Majidi’s daughters posed bareheaded, dressed in black with a white scarf around her neck, next to her mother’s flower-covered grave, according to an image that has gone viral on social media.
Her hair was cropped short to her skull, and in her left hand she held the long strands of hair she had cut off, in apparent homage to her mother and Mahsa Amini.
Ghazaleh Chelavi, 32, a keen mountaineer, was shot dead in the north Caspian city of Amol on September 20, according to social media channels, which posted harrowing footage of her family’s plight at her funeral.
Hannaneh Kia, 23, was killed on the same day in the city of Nowshahr, according to family members and activists. Amnesty International reported that two friends said she was shot dead on her way home from a doctor’s visit.
– ‘They will keep shooting’ –
Activists say nearly all of the victims died after being shot at point-blank range.
But Sarina Esmailzadeh, just 16 years old and like Hadis Najafi also from Karaj, died as a result of beatings to the head after security forces beat her with batons on September 23, according to Amnesty International.
It was also alleged that Iranian security and intelligence agents subjected the girl’s family to “intense harassment” to force her to remain silent, in a commonly used tactic.
Nika Shahkarami went missing on September 20 after leaving Tehran for a protest two weeks before her 17th birthday, her aunt Atash Shahkarami wrote on social media.
Her family were finally allowed to see the body on October 1 and were scheduled to bury her on her 17th birthday in her hometown of Khorramabad in Lorestan province, Atash Shahkarami wrote.
But both BBC Persian and Iran Wire reported that authorities took possession of the body and secretly buried it in another village on Monday to avoid a burial that could spark a protest.
Meanwhile, Atash Shahkarami himself has been arrested, the reports said. She has been inactive on social media since October 2nd.
“This is not the end. They will keep arresting people and shooting as long as people take to the streets. And people have no other place to express dissenting opinions,” Boroumand said.