Iran: Nika's death tried to be covered up, says the victim's family
The death of a young woman who disappeared during a protest in Iran on 19 September and who died in suspicious circumstances, allegedly while she was in custody, is tried to be covered up by the Iranian authorities and the state media, independent news outlet Iran Wire said, citing the testimonies of her family members.
The last contact of sixteen-year-old Nika Shakarami with her mother was at around 11:30 PM on 19 September, when Nika's signal was lost and her cell phone was eventually turned off, her mother Nasrin Shakarami told Radio Farda.
Noting that Nika had gone out early the same day "to participate in a protest against compulsory hijab,” the mother said:
"We had no news for nine days. During these days a man kept saying that he had checked Nika's ID number and that he was sure that the IRGC [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] had arrested her, and that she is fine. On day nine, my brother and I went to the police station again to seek new information about her. They showed us pictures of her dead body and said they are the pictures of her body on the morning of September 20, and that they have handed her body over to the Kahrizak morgue."
The family then went to the morgue in the Kahrizak detention center, where they identified the corpse as Nika's.
Atash Shakarami, her aunt, said their request to see the entire body was rejected. "When we went to identify her, they didn't allow us to see her body, only her face for a few seconds," she told BBC. She was later arrested after posting a picture of Nika on social media.
Tehran prosecutor Mohammad Shahriari said on Wednesday that the lifeless body was found by the residents of a building near Amirakram crossroad at 7:30 on September 21, adding that "the police found out that the young girl named Nika Shakarami had fallen down from an adjacent building."
"Forensic examinations showed that there was no sign of bullet wounds in her body, but she had injuries caused by a fall," the prosecutor said.
Mother: "I reject whatever they reported about her death"
Nika's mother and uncle said that on the pictures taken when she was found dead she did not look like someone who had fallen from a height.
They noticed her skull and nose were broken when they received the body for burial. Her body had been stitched from her chest to her stomach. The stitches were the results of the autopsy, the police told them.
"The hospital report says she was killed because of multiple strikes of a hard object to her head. and nothing else,” said Nasrin Shakarami.
“I have seen my daughter's body. Her body was fine but her face, teeth and back of her skull were smashed. I reject whatever they reported about her death. They also threatened me to come and say whatever they have made up about her."
When intelligence officials told the family to bury Nika in private, the family refused. Riot police stormed the funeral procession on Monday, arrested Atash, and moved Nika’s body to an undisclosed location for burial. Police said they would later tell the family the location of the grave.
“They asked us to bury her body somewhere else,” the mother told Radio Farda. “On the morning of her burial day, they stole her dead body under a tightened security situation and buried her in a very remote village, without telling anyone. They have arrested my brother and sister, put them under lots of pressure and forced them to tell some ridiculous lies on television."