March 25, 2023

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The family of a teenage girl killed during protests in Iran was forced to lie about the girl’s death

The family of a teenage girl who died during protests in Iran was forced to make false statements, a source close to the family said.

Nika Shakarami, aged 16, disappeared in Tehran on September 20, after telling a friend that she was being followed by the police, writes the BBC, quoted by

On Wednesday night, the teenager’s aunt, Atash, appeared on state television, saying: “Nika died after falling from a building“.

Also, her uncle criticized the protests in the country on TV, and someone seems to whisper to him: “Say it, you bastard“!

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The quoted source told BBC Persian that both have “forced confessions” who came “after intense interrogations and after being threatened that other family members would be killed“.

Atash and Nike’s uncle, Mohsen, were detained by authorities after Atash posted messages online about his niece’s death and spoke to the media. The televised statements were recorded before being broadcast, according to the quoted source.

Atash told the BBC, before she was arrested, that the Revolutionary Guards had told her that Nika had been in their custody for five days and was then handed over to prison authorities.

Justice specified that, on the night she disappeared, Nika entered a building where eight construction workers were present and was found dead in the outer courtyard the next morning.

Tehran judicial official Mohammad Shahriari said Wednesday that an autopsy revealed that Nika suffered “several fractures … to the pelvis, head, upper and lower limbs, arms and legs, indicating that the person was thrown from a height”.

He stated that this proved that her death had nothing to do with the protests.

However, a death certificate issued by a cemetery in the capital, which was obtained by BBC Persian, shows that the girl died after suffering “many injuries caused by blows with a hard object“.

Nike’s Instagram and Telegram accounts were deleted after she disappeared, Atash said.

Iranian security forces are known to ask detainees to give them access to social media accounts so that accounts or certain posts can be deleted.

The report aired on state television on Wednesday evening also featured footage in which Atash was seen confirming that her niece’s body had been found outside the court building, although this contradicted earlier statements made by her and other family members.

The girl’s family said they found Nike’s body in a detention center morgue 10 days after the girl disappeared and that the authorities only allowed them to see her face for a few seconds to identify her.

Atash stated before she was detained that she did not go to the morgue.

Nike’s family transferred the teenager’s body to her father’s hometown of Khorramabad in the west of the country on Sunday, the day she would have turned 17.

A source close to them told BBC Persian that the family had agreed, under pressure from the authorities, not to hold a public funeral. However, the security forces “stole” the body of the girl from Khorramabad and secretly buried it in the village of Veysian, about 40 km away.

Hundreds of protesters later gathered at the Khorramabad cemetery and chanted anti-government slogans, including “death of the dictator”, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

Nika is not the only young protester to be killed during the protests that erupted last month following the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by the moral police for allegedly breaking the Islamic Republic’s strict hijab law.

The family of 22-year-old Hadis Najafi said he was shot by security forces while protesting in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran, on September 21. Officials reportedly asked her father to say she died of a heart attack.

Another 16-year-old girl, Sarina Esmailzadeh, died after being hit in the head with batons by security forces during protests in Karaj on September 23, a source quoted by Amnesty International as saying. The source also told the human rights group that security and intelligence agents harassed the girl’s family to coerce her into silence.

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