Nika Shahkarami: Iran arrests eight after teenage protester dies


Iranian security forces have arrested eight people for the death of a 16-year-old boy, Nika Shahkarami, in Tehran last month, Iranian media reported on Tuesday.

Members of her family told BBC Persian that she remained unidentified for 10 days before her body was found at a morgue in the capital.

His aunt, Atash Shahkarami, Persian told the BBC in an interview on Friday that her niece left her home on September 20 around 5 p.m. local time, and was in contact with her until 7 p.m.

The aunt said Shahkarami’s friend told her the teenager posted an Instagram story showing her burning her headscarf, and Shahkarami told her she was being followed by security guards.

After that, the family lost contact with Shahkarami, the aunt told BBC Persian. The family found her 10 days later in the morgue of a detention center in the capital.

“When we went to identify him, they didn’t allow us to see his body, only his face for a few seconds,” Atash Shahkarami told BBC Persian.

The official Tasnim news agency said Shahkarami was found dead on September 21 in the backyard of a house in Tehran. Tasnim said police watched surveillance footage of Shakarami entering an adjacent building and it was still unclear how she died. Tasnim said there was “no evidence” of “foreign media” claims that the teenager was killed by police.

The eight people arrested were construction workers where Shahkarami allegedly entered, Tasnim reported.

Tehran prosecutor Ali Salehi said a judicial criminal case had been opened and expressed his condolences to Shahkarami’s family, IRNA said.

CNN has reached out to the family for comment.

Shahkarami’s death comes amid nationwide protests storm iran following the death in September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died after being arrested by the country’s vice police for her clothing.

Girls and women across the country demonstrated on school and college campuses and in the streets. Videos on social media show Iranian women and girls chanting “death to the dictator” and are seen removing their compulsory headscarf, known as the hijab, in protest.

Anti-regime demonstrations have also penetrated the power bases of the Islamic Republic, including the holy Shia cities of Mashhad and Qom. Ethnic minorities – including Kurds in the north and northwest of the country, and Baluchis in the southeast – have also staged protests, enduring what appears to be one of the most brutal crackdowns, with dozens of dead.

The fierce repression over protesters by Iranian authorities has drawn the attention of the United States, which is expected to issue new sanctions this week against law enforcement officials and those directly involved, a source close to the planned move told CNN.

President Joe Biden, who has moved quickly to provide support for protesters, issued an intentionally vague statement on Monday promising additional costs “on perpetrators of violence against peaceful protesters.” A source told CNN those costs are expected to come in the form of additional penalties this week, with further actions potentially to follow.

On Tuesday afternoon, CNN saw girls from a vocational high school in Tehran protesting in a street near their school. They were heard shouting “woman, life, freedom” and “worthy support for Iran” as well as “death to the dictator” – a popular chant heard amid protests across the country in recent days.

In a tribute to his niece posted on Instagram, Atash Shahkarami wrote: “May thousands and thousands of brave people be born from the death of brave people!

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