An Iranian man has been shot dead by security forces, reportedly as he celebrated his country’s departure from the World Cup in Qatar after the country was defeated by the US, human rights groups said.
‘His name was Mehran Samak. He was shot in the head by state troopers as he went to celebrate the Islamic Republic’s loss at Fifa World Cup 2022 in Bandar Anzali last night, like many across the country. He was only 27 years old,” the Iran Human Rights Group said in a statement on Twitter on Thursday.
The group said authorities from Iran’s Forensic Medical Organization refused to hand over Samak’s body despite a crowd gathered outside the building.
Samak’s death was also reported by another rights group, the Center for Human Rights in Iran.
In a tweet, the group posted a video of his funeral and said that Samak was “allegedly shot by security forces in Bandar Anzali, Gilan province, on November 29 while driving/honking to celebrate Iran’s loss to the US” .
Iran’s national team lost a hard-fought battle against the US 1-0 on Tuesday night and subsequently dropped out of the World Cup.
Iranians then took to the streets to celebrate the loss of the national team, seen by many as a tool of the clerical regime.
Following reports of Samak’s death, Iranian midfielder Saeid Ezatolahi said he knew him as a boy and posted a photo to his Instagram story.
A translation of his message has been posted online.
“I wish we could stay at that age forever. Without strife, without hatred, without envy,” he wrote.
“After last night’s bitter defeat, the news of your passing has set my heart on fire.
“Even as I write this story, I still haven’t slept. But old friend, you must know that there is less humanity in this world every day. This is not what our youth deserve. This is not what our country deserves,” said the midfielder according to the translation.
The midfielder did not elaborate on the circumstances of Samak’s death, but wrote that “the day these masks fall and the truth about these people comes out, that day they will have to reciprocate your family and your mother’s pain”.
The Iranian football team is under intense pressure to show support for the World Cup protests.
The team did not sing their anthem before the game against England and stood still in an apparent act of solidarity. During the game, they did not celebrate the team’s two goals.
However, the team sang the national anthem before facing Wales in another game.
Since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini on September 16, Iran has seen widespread protests.
She was taken into custody by Iran’s vice squad for refusing to comply with hijab laws.
Protests in Iran sparked by Amini’s death have since turned into widespread demands for the abolition of clergy rule in the country.
More than 400 demonstrators have been killed as the regime unleashed measures to curb the demonstrations.
Earlier this month, Iran’s loss to England was blamed by state media on unrest in the country.