Mother Of Dead Teen Protester Accuses Iranian Authorities Of ‘Lying’ About Her Death In Attempt To ‘Exempt Themselves’


Nika Shakarami headed to Tehran’s central Keshavarz Boulevard on September 20 to affix anti-government protests that broke out throughout the nation after a younger lady arrested for not sporting a compulsory headband died in police custody.

After Nika posted an Instagram story displaying her burning her personal headband, she was by no means seen alive once more.

Now — just like the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini whose loss of life on September 16 sparked the continuing wave of demonstrations — the unclear circumstances of the 16-year-old Nika’s loss of life and options of a cover-up by authorities have made her yet one more tragic face of protest in Iran.

In a video message despatched solely to RFE/RL’s Radio Farda on October 6, Nika’s mom, Nasrin Shakarami, accused the Iranian authorities of “mendacity” concerning the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s loss of life in an try and “exempt themselves.”

She additionally stated the authorities “stole” her daughter’s corpse so they might bury it in secret and have pressured the household to echo the official and inconsistent account of an obvious killing.

Nasrin Shakarami stated that she final spoke to Nika on the night of September 20, when she known as a number of instances whereas her daughter took half within the demonstrations on Keshavarz Boulevard.

“I used to be in contact together with her and requested her to return house. She answered a couple of instances, it was noisy on the opposite aspect and the calls stored breaking apart,” Nasrin Shakarami stated.

“At round 11:30 p.m., I had the final cellphone name with Nika. I might hear her buddies mentioning the safety forces and saying that they had been escaping from them. Her cellphone hung up and was then turned off, and it has remained off ever since.”

Nika Shakarami

Pondering that Nika will need to have been arrested, the household went to the police the subsequent day to find out her whereabouts. “Everybody was telling us that that they had no data of her, apart from one particular person [official] who stored telling us that she was alright,” Nasrin Shakarami stated.

The official, she stated, had sought to assuage her fears by telling her that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had arrested Nika however was not disclosing details about protesters in detention as a result of there have been so a lot of them.

“‘The IRGC desires to interrogate Nika and he or she is being stored in an excellent place. I’m assured about what I’m telling you,'” Nasrin Shakarami recalled the officer telling her.

Lastly, after 9 days and quite a few visits to the authorities, police confirmed the household footage of Nika’s lifeless physique, setting off a sequence of occasions that led the authorities to bury her in secret in opposition to the household’s needs, and the arrests of relations to maintain them quiet.

Inconsistent Accounts

Figuring out the reality concerning the circumstances of Nika’s loss of life has proved unattainable for the household, which Nasrin Shakarami stated had confronted “huge strain” for questioning the official line and publicly discussing the case.

There many inconsistencies within the accounts given by the authorities, which amid allegations that she was killed by safety forces has maintained that there was no connection between Nika’s loss of life and her participation within the protests that night time.

The protests broke out within the capital and different cities days after Amini’s loss of life after her arrest on September 13 for violating Iran’s hijab legislation. Greater than 150 individuals, largely younger individuals together with youngsters, have been killed through the protests which have brazenly known as for the top of the necessary hijab and the overthrow of the nation’s clerical regime.

Mohammad Shahriari, the top of the legal prosecutor’s workplace in Tehran Province, stated previous to Nika’s secret burial that forensic proof and video footage proved she was killed on September 21 and that her loss of life had nothing to do with the protests in Tehran.

“Through the post-mortem and examination of the physique, a number of fractures had been noticed within the pelvis, head, higher and decrease limbs, palms and toes, indicating that the particular person was thrown from a top,” Shahriari stated in feedback printed by the state-run IRNA information company.

Addressing “rumors” that she had been shot whereas protesting, Shahriari stated no bullet wounds had been discovered on the physique, which he stated was found on early on September 21 by residents of a neighboring constructing who had heard a sound at 3 a.m., however who had not seen anybody fall.

Shahriari additionally stated that CCTV footage confirmed Nika coming into the partially constructed constructing she was allegedly “thrown” from by pushing open an unlocked door, and that her backpack had been found by investigators on the roof of the four-story construction.

The authorities have solid Nika’s loss of life as both a brutal crime or a suicide, and in response to the semiofficial Tasnim information company, eight building staff who had been allegedly working on the web site have been arrested in reference to a legal investigation.

In contradiction to Shahriari’s account, Nasrin Shakarami says that the household was advised by police that the photographs of Nika’s lifeless physique had been taken on September 20, the night time of the protests, and that they had been advised upon visiting the morgue on September 31 that her physique was delivered there on September 21.

A duplicate of the findings issued on October 2 by the Behesht-e Zahra Group, the entity answerable for figuring out the reason for loss of life previous to Nika’s burial, states the date of Nika’s loss of life as September 21, however says she “died as a result of a number of accidents brought on by the influence of a tough object.”

Nasrin Shakarami advised Radio Farda that the household noticed no proof of the accidents on Nika’s physique as described by prosecutor Shahriari, and that the “lethal trauma was [only] to her head.”

“I noticed my daughter’s corpse myself,” she stated. “Her physique was unharmed. There was solely the post-mortem suture seen on her chest. Her face and her cheeks had been damaged. Her tooth had been crushed, and he or she had an enormous cavity behind her cranium.”

Whereas Nasrin Shakarami stated that police advised her that the delay in figuring out the physique and the “chaos and unrest” precipitated the postponement in informing the household about Nika’s loss of life, she says “this can’t be true, as she had her ID and her cellphone together with her, and all her belongings have been discovered [and delivered to the family] apart from these two objects.”

Contentious Funeral Plans, Secret Burial

Nika’s household sought to have her buried in her hometown of Khorramabad, in Iran’s western Lorestan Province, the place they bought a plot at an area cemetery and deliberate to carry a funeral.

However these plans grew to become a degree of competition after they got the physique on October 1, Nika’s mom stated.

“They gave us the physique…and we set off for Khorramabad for Nika’s burial,” she stated. “They made plenty of hassle for us on the best way.”

The authorities, adamant that the physique shouldn’t be buried in Khorramabad out of obvious considerations that it might appeal to demonstrators, warned the household to not maintain a public ceremony however Nika’s mom refused.

On the day of the deliberate burial — what would have been Nika’s seventeenth birthday on October 3 — “we discovered that that they had stolen Nika’s physique with out our consent and that that they had buried Nika in a distant village below heavy safety,” Nasrin Shakarami stated.

Nika was buried secretly on October 3 within the village of Veysian, dozens of kilometers from Khorramabad, leaving her distraught mom no possibility however to honor her life in her hometown. The makeshift ceremony drew crowds of mourners, and he or she was reportedly described as a “martyr” by relations.

Stress On Household Members

At the very least two members of Nika’s household who publicly mentioned her disappearance, loss of life, and controversial burial had been subsequently arrested, after which they emerged on state TV on October 5 all of the sudden parroting the official line that Nika was thrown from a constructing and that her loss of life had nothing to do with the authorities’ crackdown on protesters.

A kind of who appeared on state tv — Nika’s aunt, Atash Shakarami — had actively commented on her niece’s disappearance on social media till October 2, when one among her final posts indicated that Nika can be buried in Khorramabad the subsequent day.

Atash Shakarami was reportedly arrested by safety forces in Khorramabad on October 4 and brought to an unknown location, resulting in criticism from human rights teams.

Atash Shakharami is shown on Iranian state television on October 5 reviewing CCTV coverage purporting to show her niece, Nika, entering the building that Iranian officials say she was thrown from.

Atash Shakharami is proven on Iranian state tv on October 5 reviewing CCTV protection purporting to point out her niece, Nika, coming into the constructing that Iranian officers say she was thrown from.

Previous to her arrest, Atash Shakarami stated that Nika had posted a video on her since-deleted Instagram account that confirmed her burning her headband through the September 20 protests.

The aunt additionally stated throughout an interview with BBC Persian that members of the IRGC had advised the household that Nika had been held for 5 days earlier than being handed over to jail authorities. Experiences have stated Nika was held at Kahrizak jail exterior Tehran, however the authorities haven’t confirmed this.

Atash Shakarami, a painter in Tehran, additionally expressed skepticism concerning the purported web site of Nika’s loss of life, the courtyard within the capital’s Elkhebal district the place the authorities say her physique was discovered after it was “thrown” from an adjoining constructing.

In her look on state TV on October 5, Atash Shakharami was proven watching CCTV footage the authorities say exhibits Nika coming into the constructing from which she was purportedly thrown.

When requested who the veiled particular person within the footage is, the aunt identifies her as “Nika” and later says that her physique was discovered exterior the constructing in Tehran from which the authorities say she was thrown.

“I’ve heard that they’ve recorded coerced confessions from my sister,” Nika’s mom, Nasrin Shakarami, advised Radio Farda concerning Atash Shakharami’s look on state tv. “I do not actually understand how I can tackle this sort of conduct. So abominable, so disgusting,” she stated.

“We did really count on them to give you numerous kinds of lies and excuses to exempt themselves,” Nasrin Shakarami added. “The conduct of those individuals is self-accusatory. I don’t must strive a lot to show that they’re mendacity.”

Certainly one of Nika’s uncles, Mohsen Shakarami, who gave interviews and mentioned his niece’s mysterious loss of life on social media, was additionally proven on state tv on October 5. After somebody seems to whisper to him on-screen, “Say it, you piece of dust,” he spoke out in opposition to the demonstrations that erupted after the loss of life of Amini and stated the household would comply with correct authorized channels to find out who was answerable for Nika’s loss of life.

Nasrin Shakarami stated that the authorities have tried to name her a number of instances in an obvious effort to get her to “confess” that the official account of Nika’s loss of life is correct.

“I by no means answered them, however they’ve known as individuals near me and have warned and threatened that Nika’s mom should come ahead and say what we inform her and ‘confess,’” she stated. “They wish to drive me into confessing in entrance of their digital camera and say that Nika both took her personal life or that it was an accident.”

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