WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
An image of a 17-year-old girl believed to have been beaten to death by Iran’s security forces has bafflingly emerged on a state-run TV station showing her dead on a concrete pavement.
Nika Shakarami disappeared during an anti-hijab protest in the Iranian capital Tehran and her parents found her brutally beaten body in a morgue 10 days later.
Documents seen by anti-regime media apparently give the cause of Nika’s death as “multiple injuries caused by being hit by a hard object” and she had called a pal to say she was being chased by security officials shortly before she vanished.
But government officials insist she died in some sort of fall.
Now – bafflingly – an image said to show Nika’s corpse has emerged on Iranian state television.
The grim image shows a girl lying face up on a concrete pavement with a pool of dried blood under her head and her limbs splayed out.
One of her ankles seems twisted at an odd angle and a trainer has come off her foot.
Her head is tilted to one side, making it impossible to see her whole face.
But there is no sign of the tall building Nika is supposed to have fallen off, nor any other landmark that would show which city or even which country the photo was taken in.
And the state TV presenters gave no information about who had supplied the picture or who had taken it.
Chillingly, government security officials took Nika’s body from her family before her burial.
Now critics are wondering if her corpse could have been used in a sick stunt to fake a death photo that would clear the regime of her killing.
Iran’s state radio – Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting – also staged an interview ambush of Nika’s aunt, Atash Shakarami, pushing her to confirm it is her niece in the picture.
Critics say that Atash was obviously repeating exactly what she had been told to say as she said stone-faced that it was her niece in the picture.
She was also forced to watch a grainy video said to show Nika entering the building Iranian officials insist she fell from.
Broadcasting videos of forced confessions from political prisoners and civil rights activists has a long tradition in the media of the Islamic Republic.
But in the wake of the hijab demos, it seems that ordinary citizens are also now being forced to make similar statements.
Nika was last seen alive at protests against the Iranian regime in Tehran on 20th September.
Her family found her body in a morgue at a detention centre in the city 10 days later.
Anti-regime activist Masih Alinejad and other anti-regime activists say that Nika was beaten to death by security forces while in police custody.
She said she had a “smashed nose and broken skull” and that “she was identified by a birthmark.”
The teenager had messaged a friend on the day she went missing to say she was being chased by security forces.
An autopsy revealed she had suffered “multiple fractures…in the pelvis, head, upper and lower limbs, arms and legs”.
Tehran judiciary official Mohammad Shahriari said her injuries, “indicate[s] that the person was thrown from a height.”
He went on: “No bullet marks were found…and the evidence shows that the death was caused by the person being thrown.
“The incident has nothing to do with the recent disturbances.”
He was unable to explain the phone call in which she had complained she was being chased by security services, or what had happened to her body when it had vanished.
The prosecutor in Lorestan Province, western Iran, Dariush Shahoonvand, also denied any wrongdoing by authorities.
But a new document seen by anti-regime media apparently gives the cause of Nika’s death as “multiple injuries caused by being hit by a hard object” and not by a fall.
The letter is alleged to be from the Municipality of Tehran and addressed to Khorramabad Cemetery.
According to reports, Atash says Nika was arrested for setting fire to her hijab.
Nika has now become the new face of the ongoing protests in Iran following the death of Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini, 22, allegedly at the hands of Iranian morality police.
Hundreds of demonstrators flocked to Khorramabad Cemetery to chant anti-regime slogans, such as “death to the dictator”, said reports.
Online activists have also been sharing Nika’s photo and using her name as a hashtag.
According to pro-regime news agency Tasnim, eight people have been arrested in connection with the teen’s death.
Tasnim reported: “The investigation into the case…is still ongoing, and the forensic experts have not yet submitted their final report on this incident to the judicial authorities.”
(T4 / ends)