Pouya Bakhtiari

Pouya Bakhtiari (Persian: پویا بختیاری) was an Iranian protester who was shot and killed on 16 November 2019 in Karaj during the 2019 Iranian protests.[1][2] His death and his parents' reaction garnered nationwide attention; the arrest of several of Bakhtiari's family, who had defied a request by authorities to keep the mourning ceremony low-key,[3] drew international condemnation, including in a Tweet from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.[1][4]

Pouya Bakhtiari
Paouya Bakhtiari.png
Born10 September 1992
Tehran, Iran
Died16 November 2019(2019-11-16) (aged 27)
Cause of deathShooting
Known forDeath during the 2019 Iranian protests
  • Manouchehr Bakhtiari (father)
  • Nahid Shirbisheh (mother)


Pouya Bakhtiari was born on 10 September 1992 in Tehran, Iran.[5] He received his degree in electrical engineering and operated his family's workshop. Bakhtiari was interested in Iranian history and poetry, and wanted to eventually immigrate to Canada.[6][2]

Death and subsequent arrests of family membersEdit

Bakhtiari's father Manouchehr Bakhtiari, a veteran of the Iran–Iraq War, announced that his son had died on 16 November 2019 in Mehrshahr due to a gunshot wound to the skull. According to him, Bakhtiari was accompanied by his mother, Nahid Shirbisheh, on the second day of the 2019 Iranian protests in Mehrshahr and was pronounced dead before he reached the hospital. Shirbisheh stated that "For a moment I saw that people were carrying the body of a protester, and I realized it was my son".[2][5]

In an interview with Masih Alinejad, Manouchehr stated he was not afraid of death, that he would not stay silent and that it was the Islamic Republic of Iran who were the "real hooligans".[7]

Bakhtiari's body was buried on 19 November 2019 in Behesht-e Sakineh Cemetery in Karaj.[2]

On 23 December 2019, the government arrested several members of Bakhtiari's family, who had wanted to hold a public memorial service on 26 December.[8] According to Manouchehr, authorities had requested the family to hold the ceremony in a mosque, but he had refused, citing the need for a larger space.[3] U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the arrests on Twitter.[4] Authorities released Shirbisheh on 7 January 2020 and Manouchehr on 25 January, the latter on bail.[9]

Bakhtiari's father Manouchehr became an ardent pro-monarchy activist after his son's death. He was detained in July 2020 on Kish Island, to where he had gone to campaign against the Iran–China 25-year Cooperation Program. He was transferred to Bandar Abbas prison, according to Bakhtiari's uncle Mehrdad Bakhtiari.[10]

Bakhtiari's uncle Mehrdad was again detained on 31 October 2020, and handed a five-year suspended sentence and prohibited to leave the country for two years upon release on 16 December 2020. Days before his detention, Mehrdad had given interviews to foreign-based Persian news outlets in which he spoke of ongoing pressure by authorities to stop the family from demanding a thorough investigation into Bakhtiari's death; he had told Voice of America that authorities had ascribed the death, and that of others in the protests, to anti-government forces from outside Iran.[9]


On the day of his death, Bakhtiari recorded a series of videos on his mobile phone from protests in Karaj during the day and continuing into the night which were widely circulated after his death.[11]

After the original release of the video by BBC Persian, the entire video was released by Masih Alinejad, which made apparent that the BBC had censored part of the original video. In the censored part of the video, Bakhtiari says "Bravo to everyone! People don't lose this opportunity to once and for all destroy this criminal and corrupt regime which has pillaged our beloved Iran for 40 years."[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Killed In Karaj: Peace-Loving, Vegetarian Engineer A Face For Those Slain In Iranian Protests". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. Archived from the original on 2019-12-16. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  2. ^ a b c d "پنج سال در جبهه‌ها جنگیدم، در جواب مغز پسرم را هدف گرفتند" [I fought for five years in the war, but they killed my son]. RFE/RL (in Persian). Archived from the original on 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  3. ^ a b "Iran Arrests Family Of Slain Protester". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2019-12-24. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  4. ^ a b Berger, Miriam. "An Iranian couple wanted to mourn son killed in protests. Now they are in jail". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2019-12-27. Retrieved 2020-02-24.
  5. ^ a b "اعتراض‌های ایران؛ گفتگو با پدر یکی از کشته‌شدگان" [Pouya Bakhtiari's Father Interview]. BBC Persian (in Persian). 2019-11-26. Archived from the original on 2019-11-29. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  6. ^ "Iran: No Justice for Bloody Crackdown". Human Rights Watch. 2020-02-25. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  7. ^ Alinejad, Masih [@AlinejadMasih] (2019-11-28). "Father of Pooya Bakhtiar, 27 Yrs old protester who was shot in the head in #IranProtests told me: They killed my son. I'm not afraid of death. I won't be silent. The Islamic Republic is the real hooligans" (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-04-15 – via Twitter.
  8. ^ "Fearing Fresh Protests Iran Arrests Outspoken Family Of Slain Protester". RFE/RL. Archived from the original on 2019-12-28. Retrieved 2020-03-01.
  9. ^ a b Lipin, Michael; Haghjoo, Ramin (2020-12-23). "Iran punishes family of slain 2019 protester again, hands uncle 5-year suspended sentence". Voice of America. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  10. ^ "Father Of Slain Protester Opposing Deal With China Taken To Jail In Southern Iran". Radio Farda. 19 July 2020. Retrieved 27 April 2021.
  11. ^ "ویدیوهای پویا بختیاری از اعتراضات در روز ۲۵ آبان در کرج قبل از اینکه در همان شب با گلوله ماموران کشته شود" [Videos of Pouya Bakhtiari before he was shot]. BBC Persian (in Persian). 2019-11-27. Archived from the original on 2019-11-30. Retrieved 2019-12-17.
  12. ^ Alinejad, Masih [@AlinejadMasih] (2019-11-28). "Just before being shot in the head Pooya Bakhtiari filmed these videos.The young man who is talking in this video was killed by security forces in #IranProtests[.] In video you hear how he was dreaming to get rid of Islamic Republic. I interviewed his father who send me the videos" (Tweet). Retrieved 2021-04-15 – via Twitter.