By Golnaz Esfandiari,
Sanee Zhaleh and Mohammad
Mokhtari, the two young Iranians who were shot dead in the February 14 protests,
are now being referred to as "Green martyrs," along with about 70 other citizens
who lost their lives in the 2009 protests over the disputed reelection of
President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Members of the Green
Movement have accused the Iranian establishment of stealing the bodies of the
two men in an attempt to depict them as government supporters who were killed by
cartoon shows how the burial of the two is viewed by some Iranians
"The killers took away the bodies of those they killed," one
opposition supporter told "Persian Letters."
Here's another cartoon, titled "Stealing Martyrs" by well-known
cartoonist Mana Neyestani. The security guard is saying, "Our dear martyr....
Opposition leaders were condemned at Zhaleh's funeral.
The move has sparked outrage among opposition members, who
believe the government was shocked and terrified when the February 14
demonstration drew tens of thousands of Iranians to challenge the regime.
The protests took place despite more than a year of increased repression and an
ongoing crackdown, and despite the fact that the authorities had banned it and
warned opposition members not to protest.
Not Basij, Musavi!
Iran's hard-line Fars news agency (often now referred as "Farce" for spreading
false news and government propaganda) has claimed that one of the two dead, art
student Sanee Zhaleh, was a member of the Basij force.
But relatives and friends of the 26-year-old said Zhaleh was not a member of the
Basij, which has been active in the brutal crackdown against the opposition
posted a picture of him with Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri,
who is considered the spiritual father of the Green Movement.
One of his friends and fellow students
told RFE/RL's Radio Farda that Zhaleh was a member of the
opposition Green Movement and a supporter of opposition leader Mir Hossein
Musavi. In fact, he said Zhaleh worked at Musavi's headquarters during the 2009
Some have noted that Sanee Jaleh, a Sunni Kurd, would
not fit in with the Basij militia.
Sanee's brother, Ghane Zhaleh, said in an interview that the
Basij identity card of Sanee that Fars had posted was fake. He said he gave his
cousin a picture of Sanee the day after the February 14 protest during which his
brother was killed. He said he wasn't aware that his brother had lost his life.
The picture was apparently used for the fake identity card.
Zhaleh said the family had come under pressure by the government not to speak to
the media. "They didn't even give us his body," he
said in an interview with Voice of America's (VOA) Persian service.
video appears to be an amateur movie in which Sanee Zhaleh
can be seen.
Sanee Zhaleh was buried on February 16 by government supporters who reportedly
beat up his friends and fellow students and didn't allow them to attend the
According to some unconfirmed reports, Zhaleh's brother has been arrested
following his interview with VOA's Persian service.
'Let Me Die Standing'
Mohammad Mokhtari's father cries at his funeral,
which was held amid tight security in Tehran
Later on February 16, the website
Kalame, which is close to Musavi, reported that "the second martyr
of the February 14 protests was also stolen."
According to the report, 22-year-old Mohammad Mokhtari was buried by government
supporters who chanted "Death to Musavi, death to Karrubi," the leaders of the
opposition. His family members were reportedly also present.
Mokhtari's friends and family have so far remained silent about his death during
the February 14 protests in Tehran. Opposition activists have posted on Facebook
and blogs his pictures and some of his last posts on Facebook in an effort to
counter the government propaganda.
Mokhtari's profile picture on Facebook is green, the color of the Iranian
opposition, with the date 25 Bahman (February 14) on it that reads: "All
The last link he posted on his wall is a statement by a close aide to opposition
leader Mehdi Karrubi, who had said that there was no need for permission for the
February 14 rally that the authorities had banned.
Most of his other posts are also related to the opposition
movement, including declarations of support for prominent film director Jafar
Panahi, who has been sentenced to six years in prison and banned from making
movies or traveling abroad for 20 years.
On February 13, the day before he was killed, Mokhtari wished his friends a
"Happy Valentine's Day!"
And this is one of his last status updates: "God, make my destiny to die while
standing, since I am tired of living while sitting in abjectness."
Copyright (c) 2011 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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