An Iranian girl in black stands on top of an overturned trash can, waving her scarf in flames as she chants “Death to the Dictator.”
Moments later, the video shows her crouching down to collect another scarf from a friend and setting it on fire as well in front of protesters.
The girl was 16-year-old Nika Shahkarami from Tehran. Hours after these scenes were taped on her Sept. 20, Nika went missing in a video exclusively obtained and verified by CNN. Over a week later, her family found out that she had passed away.
Iranian authorities claimed Nika’s body was found behind the courtyard on the morning of September 21. Her mother was not given access to identify her until eight days later. showed a masked figure they said had entered an empty building still under construction in Tehran.
Tehran’s prosecutor initially said she died after being thrown from the roof of a building, and said her death had “nothing to do with the protests” that day. The state broadcaster reported that she had “fallen” but provided no evidence to support her claim that it was an accident.
On Wednesday, Iranian media reports quoted Tehran’s prosecutor saying Nikah’s death was a suicide after CNN asked the government to comment on evidence in the investigation. has yet to respond to CNN’s repeated investigation into the death of
Authorities did not explain why Nika entered the building on her own. Nika’s mother said she did not believe the masked person was Nika. He said he believed he was murdered, but authorities did not say if Nika was in custody at any time.
However, dozens of videos and eyewitness accounts obtained exclusively by CNN show that Nika was apparently tracked down and detained by Iranian security forces that night. One of her key witnesses, Radan, told her CNN that Nika was detained at her protest by “several large plainclothes security guards” who tied her up in her car. Said he saw it.
Some time ago, while stuck in a traffic jam in Tehran, the witness said Shakarami crouched behind a white car and shouted “Tekoon Nakhon, Tekoon Nakhon,” which means “Don’t move, don’t move.” I took a video of it. The driver before fleeing the short shelter it gave her.
Seven people who knew Nika and spoke to CNN confirmed it was her. It also shows the state of patrolling.
“I wanted to save her, but I couldn’t,” Radan said. “There were about 20 people on the sidewalk on motorbikes or 30 of her basijs,” she said, using the local name of the militia that has been at the forefront of the state’s crackdown on protesters. did.
“Shakarami was throwing stones at them. I was scared and passed by her and said ‘Be careful! Because there were a lot of plainclothes cops going through her car looking for her.
“Fifty meters away, they caught her,” Radan added.
Radan came forward to CNN after realizing that the teenager she filmed and spoke to was the one who was reported dead a few days later. With the help of the activist group 1500 Tasvir, CNN spoke exclusively to several witnesses who took part in the protests in Tehran on Sept. 20.
Other videos, including one of her scarf burning, are evidence that Nika was at the forefront of protests early the night before the crackdown began, fearlessly leading chants and throwing stones.
Witnesses said demonstrators began to gather around Tehran University and Keshawarz Boulevard that night and may have been targeted by security forces, including Iran’s feared Basij militia.
“I remember how brave she was because she climbed over a trash can and never got down. She also burned her head scarf,” said a protester who was with Nika at the demonstration. said Najime.
CNN uses pseudonyms for all witnesses cited in this investigation. This is a risk to their safety.
Around 5-6 pm on September 20, students gathered near Raleh Park to protest the death of a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, Masa Amini. About her outfit, reportedly.
The sight has become a familiar sight in Tehran in recent weeks. Women, mostly young people, chanted “death to the dictator”, burned headscarves and threw stones at security forces.
At one point a trash can was brought in and turned over blocking the road. Nika jumped on top with several others, video footage showed.
“She set her head scarf on fire and shook it. I told her not to wave it as it could burn her. “She then took the scarves of the two friends she was with and burned them as well.”
Other videos from that night, geolocated and verified by CNN, show Nika throwing stones at anti-riot police. He carries a distinctive CAT rucksack and wears a black mask and hat on his head. A gunshot-like sound is heard.
Witnesses said the security forces cracked down between 7 and 8 pm. “They were firing tear gas and pellets and catching protesters. Almost all of us were running up against them and running away,” said Reza, another witness.
As riot police and Basij forces filled the streets, protesters began moving in all directions to escape the crackdown.
Another witness, Dina, walked with Nika to protest, but in front of a gas station not far from the University of Tehran where a group of protesters gathered after fleeing tear gas fired by security forces. told CNN that he saw Nika on Some managed to capture a video of themselves being held by what appeared to be plainclothes police officers.
Nika was last seen by witnesses speaking to CNN, and another nine days passed before her family was officially notified of her whereabouts. The video, which was confirmed and located by CNN, shows the girl surrounded on three sides by security forces in the last eyewitness footage provided to her CNN showing her alive. Prove it.
“I think Nika was stranded that night when we were running away, because she was so young,” Dina said.
Iranian authorities claim Nika died on the grounds of an uninhabited building, but her mother, Nasrin, said in an interview with Iran’s independent newspaper Etemad, published Oct. 10, that her daughter “did not protest. He participated in the activities and was killed there,” he said.
Iranian security forces arrested eight people working in the building where Nikah allegedly entered, hours after witnesses saw him at the Sept. 20 protests, state news agency Tasnim said in October. reported on the 4th. His state-run IRNA said he offered condolences to Nika’s family.
Mohammad Shahriari, Tehran’s chief criminal prosecutor, initially cited an autopsy that revealed multiple fractures in the pelvis, head, upper and lower extremities and hand areas, citing Nika’s injuries as “throwing down.” “It was done,” he said. Legs and hips, Tasnim reported.
He added: No bullet holes were found in the body. ”
CNN has repeatedly asked Iranian authorities for comment on whether Nika was detained at the protests that night and whether other women were assaulted and put in a police vehicle. , asked about the status of the criminal investigation into Nika’s death. There was no response before this article was published.
On Wednesday, online news outlet Mizan, which is affiliated with Iran’s judiciary, released a report that Nika’s death was a suicide, citing Iranian prosecutors.
However, the death certificate, first confirmed by BBC Persian and confirmed by CNN, states that Shahkarami died from multiple injuries caused by being hit with a hard object.
In an interview with Etemad, Nasrin said she spoke to Shahkarami on the phone multiple times the day she disappeared.Nasrin added that the background noise during her call indicated that she and other protesters were fleeing security forces.
According to Nasrin, Nika also mentions several places she’s been (Enghelab Square, Keshavarz Boulevard, Valiasr street), matching the video geo-located by CNN.
Nasrin said the last time she spoke to her daughter was just before midnight. She then tried to call Nika, but found that Nika’s phone had been disconnected. Nika’s Instagram and Telegram accounts have been deleted, Nika’s aunt and several protesters told her CNN.
For days, she says, her family went to police stations, prisons, and hospitals looking for any trace of her, but all to no avail. She told BBC Persian that she had been asked to identify the body.na
In an interview with Radio Farda on October 6, Nasrin said that in the days after her disappearance, when she and other family members were looking for Nika, a person gave her Nika’s national ID number and said, The IRGC found her.” , they wanted to interrogate her slowly.
It matches Shakarami’s aunt, Atash. told BBC Persian right after she disappeared. “The IRGC’s own unofficial sources contacted me and said that this child had been in our custody a week ago and that[she]had been We’ve been transferred to Evin Prison,” said Attache.
Atash and Nika’s uncle, Mohsen, was subsequently arrested by Iranian security forces and forced to make false statements, BBC Persian said, citing sources close to the family. When contacted by CNN, Atash asked not to contact him again, citing safety concerns.
As the family searches for answers, those who were with Nika that day are still reeling from her death.
“The situation was very scary and everyone thought about running away,” Dina said. “I cannot forgive Nika’s death. She was a child.”