Today would be Behnoud Ramezani’s 20th birthday. In a week the trial of his parents will begin in Iran. They are charged with openly celebrating his birthday, by his grave!
Video of Behnoud’s parents at their son’s graveside to mark his birthday
Behnoud Ramezani, born in 1992 and a second-term student at Noshirvani University of Technology in Babol, was killed on the night of the Iranian Fire Festival “ChaharShanbe Soori” in 2011, at the hands of the Basij forces in Tehran. His body was eventually delivered to his family two days after his death, under the condition that he be buried outside of Tehran. The two initial forensic reports described the cause of death as “multiple blows to the head by a hard object”. The “final” cause of death, however, was announced as a result of an “explosion of a hand grenade”. Security forces banned any burial ceremonies for Behnoud Ramezani in Tehran. He was finally buried on March 18, in his native village of Gharakhil in the province of Ghaem Shahr.
Behnoud’s father recounts the circumstances of his son’s murder
“Basiji thugs had broken my son’s legs and arms. They had crushed one of his testicle. All parts of his body was bruised. My son was beaten to death by Basiji thugs. They had hit him with club and baton. My son was a freshman in Babol University. He was studing Mechanical Engineering there. He had gone home for Nowruz. He was killed in the Narmak Square (22nd Sq.). His friends told me that motorbike riders came and without asking any question, they began to hit all of us. Behnoud was saying why?, and they hit him more than others. The Basiji bastards should say why they hit my son. The Basiji bastards should say why they killed my son. My son was a student of “Exceptional Talent” school. His mother has become mad. She could not accept what has happened. We were Muslim. We were Iranian. But the Basiji thugs killed our son. Their motorbikes had no registered number. The regime should tell us why they allow Basiji thugs to have unregistered motorbikes. Why do they kill Iranians? Why did they kill my son? why? why? “
A friend reminisces about his conversations with Behnoud and the night of his death
“We both believed that everything should be based on humanity. Neither of us were particularly religious. In our discussions, we came to the conclusion that we want behave like decent human beings without harming anyone [in our actions]. Whenever we had discussions, we came to the conclusion that in this country we will never be able to do the things we like. There will always be obstacles and problems. There are always people who won’t allow us to live how we like to live. All in all, it is impossible to do anything here. Our thought was to study for four years and then leave the country. Behnoud and I had differing political views. Behnoud was completely against the current ruling government. He always watched the programs on satellite, even though I personally disliked some of these programs. There were times when we had lots of discussions. For example, we would argue every day for two weeks in a row. We would discuss how we should change this corrupt regime. We would talk about how lives would have to be sacrificed. My friend and I would explain that we were not willing to die for this cause. We wondered whether people would stand by us and follow in our path if we paid such a price. What if we paved the way and the people did not follow? Behnoud did not agree with our analysis and would say: “You may be right, but in the end lives have to be sacrificed, there has to be bloodshed…”.
“The security atmosphere in Tehran was undoubtedly tense. At around 4:00pm, when we left Iran Pars Square, you could see security agents every step of the way. We later went to Narmak, because that neighborhood has approximately 150 to 200 squares and even if they placed 10 agents at every square they would need to deploy tons of agents. In any event, there were lots of motorcycle-riding security agents watching the neighborhood. We didn’t witness any particular political protests in the square. We had no intention of holding political rallies, not because we were against the idea of protesting, but rather because we saw our Iranian Fire Festival as a night for happiness, celebrations, and festivities.
At around 6:00pm, a number of motorcycle-riding agents filled the square. Those in front were fully equipped Basij’s, followed by special security forces who were covered in gear and also well equipped. We all ran away and about fifteen minutes later, we returned to the square. At around 8:00pm, the security agents once again attacked the square. The 22nd Square was very busy. There were approximately 40-50 of us young men in the square. Later on in the night, when the crowd dispersed and Behnoud and I were standing with a few others in the middle of the square, we noticed that a group of motorcycle-riding agents had entered the main street. They revved their motorcycles and drove towards us causing us to flee. After a few seconds, I turned around and saw a boy with a short beard running away. At first I didn’t think he was a Basij, but then I heard a women at the end of the street shouting: “They have killed someone! The Basij’s have attacked and killed someone!” Initially, I had no idea that it was Behnoud she was talking about. I saw two of the neighborhood boys running after the Basij who had jumped into a White Samand with the license plate “44-Iran-246S61″ and had fled the scene….
“A few of our friends who had witnessed what happened, explained that they first hit Behnoud from afar with an electric shocker (I must say that I am sure of this fact) and later Behnoud slipped. When I went to stand above him, I saw that Behnoud’s body and face were black and bruised. He had not even shed a drop of blood…
“Later the forensic experts confirmed the details in their report. The bone in his right thigh was crushed. One of his testes had exploded. His right or left hand was broken. His neck was broken, but an injury to the spinal cord does not lead to death. The cause of his death was the heavy blows to his head. It is unclear what caused the head trauma that led to the rupturing of an artery in his brain and cerebral hemorrhaging. He was taken to the Alghadir hospital by ambulance where he was declared dead.”