Two days have passed since the release of a one-minute, twenty-six-second video of torture and violence of Mashhad police that led to the death of a citizen named Mehrdad Sepehri. Mehrdad Sepehri was deliberately killed; Directly by the police. He became a victim of naked police violence in public while in custody. There is no doubt about these facts. The available evidence leaves no room for acquittal and excusing of the perpetrators, who in this case are the law enforcers themselves. However, in the last 48 hours, the media and government agencies have launched a massive counter-intelligence and propaganda campaign to create confusion and doubt in the public mind, soften civil society, sanctify the image of the regime, tarnish the image of the victim, distort the murder case, pretend the existence of litigation possibility in the corrupt judicial system and the complete monopoly and control of all information channels that are in any way related to the murder of Mehrdad Sepehri – in short: to nip the possibility of any civil unrest against this governmental crime in the bud.
This set of actions resembles a template for the repetitive behavior of the media and government agencies. The template that the regime has left in the face of many other cases in the past. Last case: Abadani girl, Bahareh Cheshberah!
These sets of behaviors are as repetitive and similar in quality and form as they are in dynamics and timing; As if there is no human behind these actions and a ruthless soulless machine, every time something happens in the society, one of its keys is pressed and causes a series of reactions and behaviors. Every time a Bahareh is raped by a machine of terror, violence, religion, lies and forced confession starts, Cheshmberah is introduced as a girl with mental disorders, acid-spraying and vulgar; Mehrdad’s murder in police car presses the button of forced confession, lies, religion, violence and terror in the machine, and Sepehri becomes an addict and annoying person who was killed, committed suicide or was made to commit suicide in an unusual circumstance in a car of law-abiding police.
Let’s go back to the beginning of Mehrdad Sepehri’s story:
BBC Persian released a video on Saturday, October 24, 2020. This video is a combination of several clips and its time is 1 minute and 26 seconds. In addition to the familiar BBC logo, which is located in the upper left corner of the image throughout the film, the BBC injects a narrative of crime into the viewer’s mind. The induced BBC narrative begins with this image:
Location: Hojat complex in Mashhad.
Time: Apparently October 20, 2020!
This information can be sent to BBC by sender of the video clips or extracted from the file. But nothing in the “appearance” of this clip can say that the time of these events is October 20. October 20 is Tuesday of last week. Mehrdad Sepehri’s brother in an interview with an IRIB reporter said this incident happened on Monday, October 19, 2020, and not “apparently October 20”:
In the 41st second of this film, BBC turns the event into the background and puts its narrative in front of the image:
“It is said the young man was taken to police car while unconscious.”
Masoud Sepehri, Mehrdad Sepehri’s brother, in an interview with Iran International said:
“Eyewitnesses asserted that after beating his brother for 45 minutes, the officers put him in a police car while he was not hurt, but in the car, the officers grabbed Mehrdad Sepehri by the head and pushed him down behind the seats and put their knees on his back. Then, they beat him more severely.”
Therefore, this BBC’s claim that Mehrdad was unconscious at the time of his transfer to the car is also incorrect, but on the contrary, according to these statements, he was completely conscious and probably tried to defend himself against police violence.
Mehrdad was killed by officers inside the car. Images released from the wounds left on his body confirm this fact. In addition, how will a police officer who shows that amount of violence and brutality in front of people, behave in a space away from eyewitnesses?
There is no video of what the police did to Mehrdad Sepehri inside the car. But from what they did after the video of officers’ crime was released, a video clip is circulating on state-controlled media that is either made by the police themselves or commissioned by them. Because resources used in making this film are only available to the police, such as the recorded voice of a woman who called the police to file a complaint and asked to send officers to 53 Toos Fathi Street in Mashhad. “Sobh-e-Toos” website published the video on Sunday, October 25, 2020 and was immediately republished by other government media outlets such as Rokna and the Young Journalists Club, etc. Their headlines all followed the same pattern to the tee: The story of how “an addict” or the person who “created insecurity for the citizens,” got killed! The film begins with a black-and-white image of a screen that looks as if it shows the recorded images of a CCTV camera. It shows the left corner of the screen. The right-hand corner, where information about the time and date of the movie is usually seen, is not only not in the image, but the camera is clearly avoiding that part of the monitor till the end of the movie.
It is mixed with the voice of a woman making a phone call as well as emotional music. In addition, on the film, similar to the BBC film, a special narrative is engraved to give color to a story that is not recognizable in the clip.
In their narration, government websites, unlike Persian BBC, state the time of the incident not on Tuesday, October 20, but on Sunday, October 18, which, as mentioned earlier in this article, contradicts Masoud Sepehri, the victim’s brother.
The joint product of “Sobh Toos” and Mashhad Police is a combination of 4 scenes. The scenes have no temporal, spatial or logical connection themselves, without the film’s inducing narrative:
The black and white film turns colorful. People gather around a man standing in the street in front of a shop and attack him. The police arrive. The man is beaten in front of the police officer and falls to the ground. The law enforcement officer is completely passive and acts like a bystander. If true and the man in the film is Mehrdad Sepehri, this document shows that not only he does not raise his hand on anyone, but is beaten by people whom the police have nothing to do with them. In this part of the film, there are two defendants: one is the passive policeman and the other is a man in blue clothes who attacks Mehrdad with fists and kicks him and throws him to the ground. The second scene is a slice of the BBC movie with a red filter; The creators have chosen the part of the film where the least violence is seen. The next scene is of a car with broken glass and possibly stolen, it is not clear who destroyed the car, when and where – a scene unrelated to the murder of Mehrdad Sepehri by the police. The final scenes are a continuation of the same CCTV scenes in which a man (perhaps Mehrdad Sepehri) is attacked and beaten by some people. The camera shows inside of a shop that most likely belongs to Mehrdad Sepehri himself.
The police, in collaboration with state media, produced and distributed this shameful product while none of the accusations leveled against Mehrdad Sepehri after his murder, even if all of them were true, could justify torturing and killing of a defenseless unarmed citizen.
Mohammad Reza Daneshvarnia, deputy governor of Mashhad for security and law enforcement, 24 hours after release of the video showing the brutality of the police officers said:
“Police used the equipment they had there. When a person resists and clashes with the police, the police must finally use their equipment. If the police did not do that, other things could have happened.”
Yes. If the police had not done so, other things would have happened: Mehrdad was alive and his four-year-old son had a father today.
Translation of this article by Sahar.
Cover: Mohammadali Ghasemi