Mother Disputing Iran Claims Says Teenager Was Beaten to Death


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The mother of a 16-year-old Iranian girl disputes official claims that her daughter died after falling from a skyscraper, while the teenage girl was beheaded as part of a crackdown on rebels. was beaten to death. -Hijab protests are rocking the country.

Nasreen Shakarami also said authorities kept her daughter Nika’s death secret for nine days before taking her body from the morgue and burying her in a remote area against her family’s wishes. Her bereaved mother told Radio Farda, the Persian-language arm of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, in a video message on Thursday.

Nika Shakarami has become the latest icon in what is seen as the most serious threat to Iran’s ruling elite in years. Recent attempts by authorities to portray the teen’s death as an accident may indicate concern that the incident is fueling further outrage against the government.

The protests, which entered their fourth week on Saturday, were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in moral police custody. They had detained Amini on suspicion of violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

iran - protest
A woman attending a protest against her death in Berlin on September 28, 2022, holds a placard with a photo of Iranian Martha Amini. (Markus Schreiber/AP Photo)

Young women often lead protests, tearing scarves and waving defiantly in calling for the overthrow of governments.

The protests quickly spread to communities across Iran and were followed by a severe government crackdown, including beatings, arrests and killings of demonstrators and internet disruptions.

Rights groups estimate that dozens of protesters have been killed in the past three weeks. On Thursday, London-based group Amnesty International released its findings on what is believed to be the deadliest incident to date in the city of Zahedan on September 30.

Iranian security forces reportedly killed at least 66 people, including children, and injured hundreds after firing live ammunition at protesters, bystanders and worshipers in the day’s violent crackdown. Iranian officials have alleged that unnamed separatists were involved in the Zahedan violence. Since then, more than a dozen people have died in the area, according to reports.

Nika Shakarami’s mother, meanwhile, resisted attempts by authorities to consider her daughter’s death an accident.

In her video message, she said a forensic report showed Nika died from repeated blows to the head.

Nika’s body was unharmed, but part of her teeth, facial bones and part of her skull were broken. “Her damage was on her head,” she said. “Her body was intact, both her hands and her feet.”

Earlier this week, Iran’s police chief, General Hossein Ashtari, claimed the teenager went to the building and “fell from the second floor during a rally.” He said that “a fall from that height led to her death.”

Nasreen Shakarami said her daughter left her home in Tehran on the afternoon of September 19 to join an anti-hijab protest. She called Nika several times over the next few hours, begging her to come home, and they last spoke before midnight. “Later, Nika’s cell phone was turned off after she shouted the name of the military while Nika and her friends fled,” she said.

The next morning, the family searched the police station and prison for Nika, but did not know her whereabouts for nine days. Authorities finally handed over her body on the 10th day, and the family headed to Horamabad city for burial.

On the day of the scheduled funeral, the family learned that the body had been snatched from the morgue and taken under heavy security to a remote village for burial, Nasreen Shakarami said. .

Since her death was confirmed, Nika has emerged as another protest icon alongside Amini. A photo of Nika in action has been widely circulated on social media.

Authorities arrested Nasreen Shakarami’s brother and sister. Her sister Atash later told Iranian television that her niece had fallen from a skyscraper.

Nika’s mother said she believed her siblings were pressured to repeat the official version.

Iran has a long history of broadcasting forced confessions.

Also on Friday, the state-run IRNA news agency cited a report from the coroner’s office that tests found Masa Amini died of cerebral hypoxia, a reduction in oxygen supply to the brain. Although suffering from insufficiency, “her death was not caused by blunt force trauma to the head, organs, or vital parts of the body.”

Before being taken to the hospital, Amini suffered from heart arrhythmias, low blood pressure, and unconsciousness.

Amini’s family refused the coroner’s report because authorities did not consult a specialist at the family’s request, BBC Persian reported. Mahsa Amini’s father had previously said there were obvious signs of bruising and beatings on her body.

Associated Press