Nika Shahkarami: How a slain 16-year-old became a figurehead of the Iran protests – National


Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old woman who died after going lacking for 10 days after taking part in protests in Tehran, has grow to be a brand new point of interest of the rising anti-government protest motion in Iran. Information of her dying, and the therapy of her household by the hands of Iranian authorities, sparked outrage and galvanized recent protests as demonstrations stretch into their third week.

The Iran protests initially erupted after the funeral of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died whereas within the custody of Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the nation’s modesty legal guidelines. At first, demonstrations centred round protesting Iran’s strict costume code that dictates how girls can costume, however have since expanded into broader requires a regime change.

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Iranian safety forces have used tear gasoline and opened fireplace on protesters to quash dissent, leaving dozens useless and tons of injured — although the true variety of casualties has been disputed. Iranian girls and women have been main the protests, with quite a few movies circulating on social media displaying folks burning their hijabs and slicing their hair in defiance of the nation’s strict modesty legal guidelines.

Shahkarami’s dying, which many activists in Iran consider occurred by the hands of Iranian authorities, has grow to be one other rallying cry within the protest motion. Protesters see her dying as emblematic of the way in which Iran’s authorities treats girls within the nation.

“Nika’s dying will certainly gasoline the fireplace of anger,” a feminine protester in Tehran stated over the Telegram messaging app, as reported by the Wall Road Journal. “What they did to Nika is a real instance of what the Islamic Republic does to us.”

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The dying of Nika Shahkarami

On Sept. 20, Shahkarami joined the protests in Tehran like many different youths her age.

In an interview with BBC Persian, the teenager’s aunt, Atash Shahkarami, stated her niece left their home round 5 p.m. native time and that they have been involved till round 7 p.m. Atash spoke to one in every of Shahkarami’s pals and discovered that the teenager had posted a narrative on her Instagram web page displaying her burning her headband, Atash stated.

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In keeping with her aunt, Shahkarami instructed her buddy that she was being adopted by safety brokers that night time. After that, her household misplaced contact along with her.

Shahkarami was lacking for 10 days after attending the protest till her household discovered her at a morgue in a Tehran detention centre.

“After we went to determine her, they didn’t enable us to see her physique, solely her face for a couple of seconds,” Atash instructed BBC Persian.

In keeping with Iran’s judiciary, Shahkarami went right into a constructing on the night time she disappeared and was discovered useless within the yard exterior the subsequent morning.

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CCTV footage that claimed to indicate Shahkarami’s final moments reveals an unidentifiable particular person strolling via an alley and knocking down their face masks earlier than getting into a constructing.

Tehran judiciary official Mohammad Shahriari stated on Wednesday {that a} autopsy of Shahkarami’s physique confirmed that the teenager suffered “a number of fractures … within the pelvis, head, higher and decrease limbs, legs and arms, which point out that the particular person was thrown from a top,” as reported by the BBC.

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Nonetheless, a dying certificates for Shahkarami, which was obtained by BBC Persian from a cemetery in Tehran, states that the teenager died after “a number of accidents attributable to blows with a tough object.”

In response to rising outrage, the Iranian authorities launched an investigation into Shahkarami’s dying on Tuesday.

“A case has been filed within the prison court docket to analyze the reason for Nika Shahkarami’s dying,” stated Tehran public prosecutor Ali Salehi, as reported by The Guardian. “An order to analyze the case has been issued.”

On the identical day, eight employees from the constructing the place Shahkarami was allegedly final seen have been arrested.

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Shahkarami’s aunt, Atash, has spoken extensively to media about her niece’s dying. She stated that Shahkarami’s Instagram and Telegram accounts have been deleted on the day she went lacking. In keeping with BBC Persian, Iranian safety forces are recognized to demand entry to detainees’ social media accounts in order that sure data could be deleted.

Atash additionally instructed BBC Persian that Revolutionary Guards instructed the household that Shahkarami was in police custody for 5 days earlier than being handed over to jail authorities.

A number of studies have stated that Atash and Shahkarami’s uncle, Mohsen, have been detained by Iranian authorities on Sunday after posting on-line about their niece and talking to the media. These studies haven’t been confirmed.

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On Wednesday night time, state TV aired a recorded message from Atash saying, “Nika was killed falling from a constructing.” In keeping with BBC Persian, Atash additionally confirmed that her niece’s physique was discovered exterior the constructing that authorities officers had flagged as the positioning of her dying. Mohsen denounced the protests within the televised message.

These feedback contradicted their earlier statements about Shahkarami’s dying and a supply instructed BBC Persian that Atash and Mohsen’s messages have been “pressured confessions.” The supply alleged that these statements have been recorded “after intense interrogations and being threatened that different relations can be killed.”

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Atash and Mohsen have since been launched.

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On Sunday, on what would have been the teenager’s seventeenth birthday, Shahkarami’s household transported her physique to be buried in her father’s hometown of Khorramabad.

A supply near the household instructed BBC Persian that that they had agreed beneath duress to not maintain a public funeral for his or her daughter. The supply additionally stated that Iranian safety forces “stole” Shahkarami’s physique from Khorramabad and secretly buried it within the close by village of Veysian.

On-line footage reveals tons of of protesters descending on Khorramabad’s cemetery on Sunday, chanting anti-government slogans like “dying to the dictator.”

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Shahkarami is only one of many younger girls and women who’ve been killed through the Iran protests up to now.

Hadis Najafi, 22, was shot useless by safety forces on Sept. 21 after attending a protest in Karaj, in line with her household. Her sisters say she was shot within the head and neck with dwell ammunition and suffered accidents from birdshot that was fired from a shotgun.

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“They wouldn’t return the physique for 2 days, asking her father to say she had died of a coronary heart assault out of concern,” two sources near the household instructed BBC Persian.

Hadis recorded a video message through the protest through which she stated, “I hope in a couple of years once I look again, I will likely be completely satisfied that all the pieces has modified for the higher.”

Her household says she was shot useless virtually an hour after recording that video.

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