Monday , 29 November 2021

Family of Journalist Killed in Iran Bus Crash Told to Keep Silent

Iranwire – The family of one the victims of last week’s fatal bus crash in West Azerbaijan have been told not to file a complaint if they want her body returned to them.

Mahshad Karimi, a reporter for Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), was killed instantly last Wednesday when a bus carrying journalists home from a tour of Lake Urmia overturned in the road.

Dozens of other reporters were injured in the crash. Mahshad Karimi had been due to marry just days after the tragedy occurred.

Her fiancé, Ali Soltan Mohammadi, has stated that since the night the disaster took place, both he and her immediate family have come under pressure from the authorities.

Speaking at a meeting with government spokesman Ali Rabiei on Monday, Mohammadi said they had been told Mahshad’s body would only be delivered to them if her father signed an affidavit agreeing he had “no complaint”.

Other high-level officials attended the meeting at the family home, including Abbas Salehi, the Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance.

During the discussion, Ali Soltan Mohammadi also called the reaction of environment chief Isa Kalantari, as well as the comportment of the governor of West Azerbaijan, the governor of Naqadeh County and the city’s Friday Imam “shameless”.

“We shall not forgive,” he said. “Not the driver of the bus, but the system. Unfortunately, in some areas, shamelessness and brazenness is replacing an acceptance of responsibility in the culture of governing the country.”

The disaster on June 23 took place after the badly-maintained bus carrying reporters back from their assignment suffered an apparent brake fault. The driver is understood to have swerved to avoid falling into a valley, leading to the bus falling on its side.

Reyhaneh Yasini, a young reporter for IRNA news agency, was also killed in the crash. Several other journalists were hospitalized with serious injuries.

It is not unprecedented for officials of the Islamic Republic to demand families’ silence in the wake of a fatal incident. Some of the families of people killed in the November 2019 protests and the January 2020 downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 were also pressurized to forgo legal action in order to retrieve the bodies of their loved ones.

The families of early victims of Covid-19 in Iran were also told not to reveal the true cause of their deaths, and to sign written pledges agreeing they had died of natural causes.