Friday , 19 July 2024

Miscarriage, Mutilation: How an Iranian Family Suffered During Protests

Iranwire – An Iranian family’s three children and their mother suffered irreversible injuries at the hands of the security forces during the nationwide protests of 2022. 

An Iranian family's three children and their mother suffered irreversible injuries at the hands of the security forces during the nationwide protests of 2022

The two-month-pregnant daughter miscarried due to injuries inflicted by officers; the younger son lost vision in one eye, and the older son lost hearing in one ear. Additionally, the mother sustained injuries to her leg and liver from the beatings. 

"My son Arman was grabbed by one arm and dragged along the ground as if he were a sack being hauled away. They savagely beat his head, face, and flank, nearly rendering him unconscious. Bystanders had to intervene to free him from the clutches of the police"

Due to relentless threats from security forces and occasional home raids, the family of six was finally compelled to flee Iran.

During the protests, the Islamic Republic’s forces in numerous cities barricaded streets, ensnared protesters, and resorted to violence, including shooting and vandalizing private vehicles. 

The Dirmina family became victims during one of those tumultuous nights.

On the evening of December 10, 2022, amid the bustling streets of Rasht city, a car carrying five passengers from the Dirmina family found itself struck in the traffic congestion stemming from the protests. 

The family had been returning home from shopping when they found themselves stranded midway down the street with no scope to retreat or advance. 

The traffic flow had come to a standstill, followed by an onslaught from agents clad in riot squad gear.

Suleiman Dirmina recounts: “They rained blows upon the car roofs, windows, and mirrors with their batons. Any hint of protest was met with threats of lethal force.”

“We were all trapped in the protest-related traffic, as the authorities themselves had blocked off the streets, forbidding any passage. If anyone dared to object, they were beaten mercilessly. I was helpless to protect the women, children, and my son-in-law,” he adds. 

Negin Dirmina, the 25-year-old daughter of the family, recalls, “That afternoon, I visited my parents’ house to share the news of my pregnancy. My father suggested we celebrate, so we all went to the market to shop for the baby. Little did we know, our lives would take a tragic turn on the journey back.”

According to Negin, when the anti-riot guards descended upon the trapped vehicles on Moalem Street, her 17-year-old brother, Arman, stepped out of the car to reason with the officers, explaining they were innocent bystanders caught in traffic. 

However, he was met with aggression from the officers.

Describing the scene to IranWire, Suleiman says, “When I stepped out to intervene, they kicked me in the stomach and chest, knocking me to the ground from behind.”

He recounts in anger, “My son Arman was grabbed by one arm and dragged along the ground as if he were a sack being hauled away. They savagely beat his head, face, and flank, nearly rendering him unconscious. Bystanders had to intervene to free him from the clutches of the police.”

Detailing his 17-year-old son’s ordeal, Suleiman adds, “Arman was in dire straits. They aimed to blind him, striking his eyes and face with the butt of their guns, fracturing his cheekbone.” 

“Blood streamed from his eyes. They silenced any attempts at explanation, raining blows upon him with their batons, showing no mercy. Gradually, they closed in on our car, shattering its windows with their batons,” he recalls. 

According to him, despite Arman’s repeated pleas asserting his innocence, the officers responded with vulgarities and threats, saying, “Shut up! Shut up!”

Negin says, “When my brother Arman stepped out, explaining we were not part of the protests, why were they smashing our car windows? My family was inside, terrified. But they paid no heed.” 

“They assaulted Arman. I cried out in fear, pleading with them to stop, that we were innocent. Then my mother came out. My headscarf had slipped off. One of the officers dragged me to the ground by my hair and kicked me.

“I screamed, ‘Why the brutality?’ they said, ‘Cover your head!’ My mother cried out, ‘My daughter is pregnant, what are you doing? Her headscarf fell; she will put it on back!’ But in that chaos, nobody listened,” she says.

Negin adds, “The officer who attacked me accused me of joining the protests to discard the headscarf. They beat my brother until his eye bled and his cheekbone shattered. They dragged him face-down. Meanwhile, my father also faced blows, but he fought only to shield my brother from further harm.”

According to Negin, bystanders aided the family in being transported to Al-Zahra Hospital near the scene.

A nurse at the Rasht hospital where Arman and Negin were admitted revealed that certain officers had repeatedly checked Arman.

Arman spent a week in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Negin reveals, “I miscarried due to the blows to my abdomen and suffered heavy bleeding. The doctors informed me that there was nothing they could do, advising me to stay home until the fetus was fully expelled due to the bleeding. I endured severe abdominal pain as the fetus was not completely expelled. Then I underwent surgery at a private hospital.”

The nationwide protests of 2022, known as the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, swept through over 80 cities in Iran, as evidenced by news reports and social media posts. 

However, in certain cities, the protests were marked by heightened intensity and a higher casualty toll. 

Rasht emerged as one of the earliest and most fervently participating cities in terms of protest turnout.

In the city, 22-year-old Erfan Dirmina and 17-year-old Arman Dirmina found themselves repeatedly evading arrest during these protests, but their identities were eventually exposed to the authorities.

According to their father, Suleiman, during one protest, Erfan and Arman attempted to blend in with the crowd to escape, but they were recognized and assaulted by three unknown individuals.

As a result of this assault, 22-year-old Erfan suffered damage to his ear, rendering him deaf in one ear.

With the assistance of bystanders, Erfan and Arman captured one of their attackers and brought him to the police station. 

However, upon presenting his identification card to the police officer, the assailant was allowed to depart without any interrogation or repercussions.

After the attack on the family’s car, they allowed Erfan to escape. Suleiman Dirmina recounted, “I sought legal assistance and filed a complaint. During the investigation, we discovered that no information about the assailant was recorded at the police station.

Subsequently, judicial officials visited the Dirmina family’s home and pressured them to retract their complaint. 

They were informed that they had no right to file complaints and were coerced into stating they would not lodge any further grievances against the law enforcement officers.

During the visit, the officers threatened the family patriarch to hand over his two protesting children.

Suleiman Dirmina recalled, “They alleged that our children had participated in protests and demanded they appear in court for trial. They intimidated our lawyer, insisting he withdraw the complaint. But I persisted that the assailant be identified and brought to justice by legal authorities. Ultimately, we were silenced into dropping the complaint.”

“The individual who engaged with us wore plain clothes, while the driver donned a Basij uniform,” Negin says. 

Following the family’s complaint, plainclothes officers repeatedly visited their residence to apprehend Erfan. 

On each occasion, they insisted that those involved in the protests be interrogated and pressured the family to withdraw their complaint.

Unable to locate Erfan, the agents resorted to taking his younger brother, 17-year-old Arman, as a hostage. With great effort, their father managed to secure Arman’s release.

Negin discloses, “We hid Arman at acquaintances’ homes. Whenever the agents raided our house, we denied knowledge of Arman and Erfan.”

Arman, a 17-year-old high school senior at the time of the protests, was forced to abandon his studies due to the traumatic events he endured. 

Negin reveals that due to his eye injury when Arman attempts to smile, his one eye remains half-open.

At the time of the turmoil, plainclothed officers would forcibly enter the family’s home without warning, even in the early hours of the morning.

Suleiman says, “They claimed they only wanted to ask a few questions and then release our sons. Without knocking or seeking permission, they would enter our home with keys or equipment. Initially, we thought it was a thief.”

He described how, in the dead of night, officers would invade their homes with cell phones and wireless devices, shining flashlights into their eyes while they slept. 

“I woke up frightened, wondering if Negin or Reza had left the house,” he recalls. “Once, a group of men barged in, demanding to know the source of our house’s light. They interrogated me with a blinding flashlight, insisting I sit and answer their questions correctly.”

“I asked, ‘Have I committed murder? Why are you here?’ They threatened to kill our sons if we did not surrender to them. Every day, their mother cried,” he adds. 

Negin recounts that a few months after departing from Iran, her mother began experiencing persistent body and side pain, often remarking that she could not sleep on her side due to the pain. 

Her issue grew increasingly pronounced. In Türkiye, assistance was sought from medical professionals, revealing a liver hemorrhage caused by the severe blows she sustained.

On the night of December 10, during the attack on their car, Negin’s mother exited the vehicle to rescue her children. However, she was kicked on her side and forcefully pushed back into the car.

When the attackers forcefully shut the car door, her mother’s leg became trapped between the door and the car body. 

The family’s attention was only directed towards her injured leg, with no awareness that her liver had sustained damage from the blow to her side. 

A doctor in Türkiye informed them that her mother suffered from a congenital liver condition known as hemangioma, and the forceful impact on her liver had triggered internal bleeding and worsened her condition.

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