Iranian mother says teenage daughter was beaten to death in anti-hijab protest crackdown | World News

Nika Shakarami

The mother of a 16-year-old Iranian girl has said she was killed by blows to her head as part of the crackdown on anti-hijab protests across the country.

Nasreen Shakarami disputed official claims her daughter Nika fell to her death from a high building.

She also said authorities kept the teenager’s death a secret for nine days and then snatched the body from a morgue to bury her in a remote area against the family’s wishes.

Nika Shakarami has become the latest icon of the protests, which were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

They had detained her for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

Young women have defiantly torn off and waved their headscarves as they led the protests, which have called for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.

The protests quickly spread across Iran and have been met by a harsh government crackdown, including beatings, arrests and the killing of demonstrators.

At least four public fountains in the capital Tehran have been dyed red, according to social media posts, by an artist for a work entitled Tehran Drowned in Blood.

Human rights groups estimate dozens of protesters have been killed over the past three weeks.

On Thursday Amnesty International accused the Iranian security forces of killing at least 66 people, including children, and wounding hundreds after firing live rounds at protesters, bystanders and worshipers in the city of Zahedan on 30 September.

Iran has claimed the violence involved unnamed separatists. More than a dozen people have been killed in the area since then, the report said.

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Image:
Nasreen Shakarami. Pic: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

In a video message to Radio Farda, the Persian-language arm of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Ms Shakarami disputed attempts by officials to frame her daughter’s death as an accident.

She said forensics reports showed Nika had died from repeated blows to the head.

Her body was intact, but some of her teeth, bones in her face and part of the back of her skull were broken, she said.

“The damage was to her head,” she said. “Her body was intact, arms and legs.”

Earlier this week Iran’s police chief, General Hossein Ashtari, claimed the teen had gone to a building “and fell from the upper floor at a time of gatherings”. He said “the fall from that height led to her death”.

Ms Shakarami said her daughter left her home in Tehran on the afternoon of 19 September to join the anti-hijab protests.

She said she was in touch with Nika by phone several times over the next few hours and pleaded with her to come home. They last spoke before midnight.

“Then Nika’s mobile was off, after she and her friends were shouting names of forces while they were fleeing,” she said.

The following morning the family searched for Nika at police stations and prisons but had no word of her whereabouts for nine days.

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People flee as gunfire rings out in Iran

Authorities finally handed over the body on the 10th day. Ms Shakarami said authorities repeatedly demanded to take possession of the body, which was being stored in the Khoramabad morgue before it was buried.

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

A photo of Nika wearing a black T-shirt and sporting a two-tone bob haircut and eyeliner has been widely shared online following her death.

Authorities have arrested Ms Shakarami’s brother and sister. Her sister, Atash, later told Iranian TV her niece fell from a high building. But Nika’s mother said she believes her siblings have been pressured to echo the official version of events.

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Mahsa Amini ‘tortured’ says cousin

It comes as the official IRNA news agency quoted the coroner’s office saying examinations found Mahsa Amini died of cerebral hypoxia – in which oxygen supply to the brain decreases.

It said she suffered multiple organ failure but “her death was not led by blunt force trauma to the head, organs and vital parts of the body”.

It said she suffered heart arrhythmia, hypotension and loss of consciousness before being taken to hospital.

Ms Amini’s family has previously disputed official accounts of their daughter’s death while in police custody. They have said her corpse showed clear signs of being bruised and beaten.