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'I Had A Very Bad Feeling' -- Iranian YouTube Protester Talks About Video Clip Of Beating

More than 110,000 people have now watched an amateur video (above) of a member of Iran’s security forces beating up a young man on a Tehran street on February 11, the 31st anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

RFE/RL correspondent Golnaz Esfandiari spoke with the young Iranian man who posted the video on YouTube. Twenty-three-year old Sam, who lives in Tehran, says he received the video clip via Bluetooth on February 11 and immediately decided to upload it on YouTube for the world to see.

RFE/RL: You didn’t videotape the scene yourself, but it was sent to you. Can you please explain how and by whom?

There were tight security measures on February 11, and if anyone looked a bit different, [security forces] would stop that person and ask him whether he or she was filming. They would also check people’s cell phones. There were many Basij militia members everywhere. When I went to Azadi Street, I saw lots of people, but there weren't any [protests]. Basij and police cars were there, too. They stopped me and checked my mobile phone.

On the way back, someone sent me the video clip [of the beating] via Bluetooth. As you can see from the clip, the person who videotaped the scene was not on the street. It looks like it was done from a building. It’s short, though. I think because that person did not want to be identified.

If what the [security forces] are doing -- the use of violence -- is fine, then why are they preventing people from filming it? And if it’s wrong, they why are they doing it?
RFE/RL: Did you watch the video clip right there? What were your first thoughts when you watched it?

I had a very bad feeling. First of all, that day was different. I couldn’t tell who was pro-regime and who was not. Then, when I saw the video clip, my head really hurt -- the way that young man was being beaten. People were walking there, but it seemed that no one dared to help him and ask why he was being beaten. It was a horrible scene.

He’s a young man like me. He wasn’t being beaten by a Basij member. It was someone from the police force who was beating him and punching him in the head. Even if that person had done something wrong, they could have arrested him. Why were they punching someone when it wasn’t even clear he had done something wrong?

RFE/RL: When you decided to post it on YouTube, weren't you worried or scared that it might get you into trouble?

I didn’t film the scene; someone else did. Whom, I don’t know. I just uploaded it on YouTube from a location that I cannot disclose. I didn’t think about what could happen, but I believe I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t expect so many people to watch the video clip.

One think I’d like to mention is that if what the [security forces] are doing -- the use of violence -- is fine, then why are they preventing people from filming it? And if it’s wrong, they why are they doing it?

I personally think it’s very inhumane when the police detain someone in the street and beat him up so harshly. The world must see it.

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