Nika Shakarami, a name which has been circulating on social media since September 28, when her aunt, Atash, announced her missing and requested people’s help. Those days, the streets were full of protesters, especially Keshavarz Blvd in Tehran, protests which were sparked after state-murder of Mahsa Amini. At the time, many were using the same medium to find their loved ones, because the Islamic Republic oppressive forces were arresting whoever they could find on the streets or shoot at whatever that moved!
Nika Went Missing
Atash explains the circumstances around her disappearance on September 20, 2022. “She was staying with me. She packed a few things, a bottle of water and a small towel. I thought she was going to see her sister in the university dorm, so I gave her, her birth certificate (as a form of ID). The next day when we noticed she was missing, I checked her room, she hadn’t taken any personal effects.” According to her, Nika had posted a story of burning her headscarf in the protests in Keshavarz Blvd and chanting. A friend sees the story and calls Nika. She picks up the phone saying: “I’m running away from security forces.” This was her last phone call after which her phone was turned off.
The family files the missing person report the next day. They searched everywhere, all prisons, all detention centers, all intelligence offices, all morgues including 3 times confirmation from Kahrizak that she was not there! Atash, in her interview with BBC Persian, said: “Some people, unofficially from inside IRGC intelligence, contacted me, telling me Nika’s interrogation was over and has been transferred to Evin prison in the past few days! We went to Evin again, they denied she was there!”
Nika Found Dead
On September 29, 2022, when Nika’s mom goes to the police to follow up on her case, she is told: “A body has been found matching your daughter’s description! She’s in Kahrizak morgue. Go there for identification!” The officials show her some photos of where the body had been found. “It looked like a sidewalk!” In the case file, they had written “falling from height” as the cause of death. However, Nika’s uncle believed that wasn’t the case: “The way the body was shown on the photos, didn’t look like somebody who fell off a height. It was too neat.” According to the uncle, her phone and a bottle of water were “arranged” by her side.
Nika’s mom goes to Kahrizak with her brother. When they arrived, the officials tell them to go back! “The business hour is almost over. Come back tomorrow!” Nika’s aunt was unable to describe how that night passed: “It was inexplicable!”
September 30, they go to Kahrizak and identify the body as Nika’s. However, they only see part of her face, which was “smashed“. Her nose was broken, so was her forehead. Her skull was in pieces due to being hit by a hard object. “It was difficult to ID her.” Officials did not allow them to see the rest of her body. The body was not delivered to them that day.
Islamic Republic grappling with immense internal and international pressure from different sides, found oppression and crushing any objection as the only solution to its problems! After Atash invited everybody to her funeral at Salehin cemetery in a tweet, Islamic Republic oppressive forces took Nika’s body and moved it to a cemetery other than Salehin in Khorramabad. She was buried in secret in a faraway cemetery, Hayat Al-Gheyb, on October 3. Atash and Nika’s uncle went there to prevent Nika’s burial, but they were arrested. The family have been forced to say Nika was never in protests, “or Atash and Nika’s uncle would be killed too!” That day, Islamic Republic oppressive forces welcomed people at Salehin cemetery with bullets!
Islamic Republic’s Reaction
On October 4, when public began questioning the circumstances surrounding Nika’s death, IRGC’s Tasnim News published regime’s fake narrative: “Nika was found in the backyard of a house on September 21. The residents informed the police. She was unidentified.”
First of all, Nika had her birth certificate with her. Secondly, in photos from the crime scene shown to Nika’s mom and uncle, she was found on a sidewalk, not a backyard!
As per Islamic Republic’s routine, it was time for forced confessions of the victim’s family to match the regime’s narrative, no matter how contradictory and sloppy it is. IRIB, regime’s Radio & TV, aired the narration on October 5, where Atash and Nika’s uncle appear for a few seconds. Atash was not well, her full face was not shown at all.
The reporter, on his cellphone’s screen, shows a body on the ground with no phone or bottle of water around it. The screen clearly is a video but reporter claimed it was a photo and did not play the video. The location is also different from the crime scene photos!
Atash was shown going to a residential alley, saying: “Nika was found here!” However, before her arrest, she didn’t know where Nika was found! Head of Criminal Bureau of Tehran Prosecutor’s Office had claimed she was found in a construction site.
In another revelation, Shahriari had claimed she was unidentified because her backpack was found on the roof of the next building! In IRIB’s charade, this is where her backpack was found, it is not on a roof and it is in an odd location!
However, her Instagram and Telegram accounts were deleted, after her phone was turned off. She spoke to her friend that night around 11:30 PM, she had posted stories on her Instagram. Additionally, IRGC had told Atash that Nika was in their custody for 5 days, while regime claims the body was found the same day she was reported missing!
The same day, another evidence surfaces. While Islamic Republic media quoting Medical Examiner Office claimed Nika had broken bones all over her body, including her hips, legs,… the letter from Tehran Behesht-e-Zahra to Khorramabad cemetery mentions the cause of death as: “Numerous injuries as the result of being hit by a hard object!” On October 6, the officials confirmed the leaked document and stated: “It was written based on what Medical Examiner Office had mentioned on the death certificate!”
The list of contradictions and evidence of forced confessions are long, and out of scope of this article. The circumstances surrounding her death are obvious to the family and people. Whenever Islamic Republic media start narrating contradictory stories, forced confessions are televised, and body is secretly buried, it is a coverup of a heinous crime at the hand of oppressive forces!
Nika Shakarami was yet another victim of the brutal authoritarian regime. The list of victims keeps getting longer by the day, while human rights claimants stay mute!