The father of one of the victims of the November 2019 protests has called the year 1400 the year of "No to the Islamic Republic" in a video message posted at the weekend.
Manouchehr Bakhtiari’s 27-year-old son, Pouya, was shot in the head and killed on November 19, 2019 at a demonstration in Karaj. His family have since been harassed by the authorities for speaking out, with his uncle handed a five-year suspended prison sentence and a travel ban for speaking out against the Iranian regime.
On Saturday, March 20, Manouchehr Bakhtiari posted a video on his Instagram page in which he expressed hope that the new century would mark a turning point in Iran’s recent trajectory, calling on people to stand against the 43 years of torment, poverty, hunger, and misery that he said “the government of the Islamic Republic has inflicted on Iran”.
In his message, he went on: "We hope that in the new year, people will join hands and unite for the freedom of our beloved homeland by creating empathy and solidarity among all ethnic groups.”
Referring to the presidential election set to be held in June 2021, he added: "We shall not be deceived by these mercenaries and swindlers, and we will not participate in the elections' display of these traitors, who are all the same. By joining the Iranian people's advocacy movement and saying no to the Islamic Republic, we will show that this government has no legitimacy in the eyes of the Iranian people.
"The end of the rule of the Islamic Republic was the wish of my son, and thousands of other innocent young people, who sacrificed their lives for this land."
Manouchehr Bakhtiari served in the Iran-Iraq war for five years. He had previously posted an image of his son’s bloodied face on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, calling it “a day of national mourning”.
Pouya Bakhtiari had joined his mother and sister in taking part on the second day of nationwide protests against a hike in gas prices. He was shot in the head while demonstrating peacefully and died before reaching the hospital.
His family have also appealed to the UN to investigate the killing of protesters in November 2019. Pouya’s mother, Nahid Shirpisheh, previously told the Center for Human Rights in Iran: “That night, for 10 or 15 minutes, I thought something beautiful was happening. I felt finally something positive was taking place to change society.
“Ten minutes later I saw my son being carried by the people. We took him to the hospital and he died right there. He became a martyr. He gave his blood for his country.
“My son didn’t have a problem making a living. The increase in the price of gasoline didn’t affect his or our lives in any way. My son was only defending the rights of his people. He was aware of what he was doing and achieved his wish with open eyes. He played his role for his country and the people honorably.”