VOA – Kian Derakhshan, who was badly injured in protests following the death of Mahsa Amini last September, told VOA he believes the Iranian people will ultimately prevail, ushering in a new era of freedom and democracy under the banner of “Women, Life, Freedom” in Iran.
Amini, 22, died September 16, 2022, in the custody of Iran’s morality police, allegedly for wearing her headscarf too loosely. “Women, Life, Freedom” has become the rallying cry of protests around her death but also for women’s rights in Iran.
During his interview, Kian shared his firsthand account of the events of September 17, 2022, in Saqqez, Amini’s hometown in the Kurdish area of Iran. That day — the day of Amini’s funeral — he joined a crowd chanting “Women, Life, Freedom,” he picked up a tear gas canister fired by security forces, and he threw it back in their direction.
According to Kian, agents of the Islamic Republic shot him with pellet guns, striking him with nearly 100 pellets. Immediately, people at the scene rushed him to a nearby clinic and into Shafa Hospital for treatment, and eventually to a hospital in Tabriz where he underwent multiple surgeries and was in intensive care for 18 days.
Kian said he has more than 100 pellets in his body, with his right arm significantly affected with a pellet embedded in his bone, irritating the nerve. Two pellets struck near his spinal cord, causing severe and constant pain, and he suffered some vision loss in his right eye. He takes medication regularly to alleviate the pain from the pellets.
Since he left the hospital, Kian said, he has been repeatedly summoned and threatened by authorities.
Hundreds killed, thousands injured
The public protests following Amini’s death while in the custody of the morality police have been one of the most substantial and critical challenges against the Islamic Republic government in the past 44 years.
According to data furnished by human rights organizations, during the crackdown on the widespread protests, the security forces of the Islamic Republic killed nearly 600 people — including women and children — injured several thousand and detained more than 20,000 Iranian citizens.
In response to this brutal crackdown, Western governments instituted a series of sanctions targeting institutions and officials of the Islamic Republic.
Memorial for Amini
In recent days, Amjad Amini, Mahsa Amini’s father, spoke with Voice of America’s Persian Service regarding the memorial ceremony for his daughter.
“We are resolute in organizing the anniversary ceremony to honor the name and memory of Zhina [Mahsa], the martyr, the oppressed, the innocent, and to bring joy to her pure soul,” he said.
“It also provides solace for the family, relatives and all her supporters,” he said. “However, given the current circumstances, we cannot formally extend invitations to the public or dissuade them from attending.”