The mother of Nika Shahkarami, a 16-year-old protester found dead in Tehran last month, says her daughter was killed by Iranian security forces at a demonstration.
In interviews with Iran’s Etemad newspaper and BBC Persian, and in a video published by US-funded Radio Farda, Shahkarami’s mother, Nasrin Shahkarami, rejected official explanations that her daughter fell from the roof.
“It is clear that my daughter was at the protests and was killed there,” Nasrin Shahkarami said, according to the interview with Etemad, an independent Iranian newspaper.
Etemad removed the interview from its website on Tuesday.
Nika Shahkarami’s death comes amid ongoing nationwide protests against a regime accused of corruption and stamping out dissent with arbitrary detentions and even mass executions.
The protests were first sparked by the death of another young woman, Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested by morality police in September.
The Iranian government said Nika Shahkarami was found dead on September 21 after CCTV footage appeared to show her entering a building in Tehran, and authorities publicly concluded she died after falling from the building’s roof.
Mohammad Shahriari, head of the Tehran provincial prosecution, said Shahkarami’s injuries were consistent with a fall, citing an autopsy that revealed multiple fractures to the pelvis, head, upper and lower extremities, arms and legs, the state Tasnim. .
He added that “an investigation showed that this incident had nothing to do with the protests. No bullet holes were found in the body and the marks on the body indicate that the person was killed by falling.”
Eight workers at the building he allegedly entered were arrested, according to Tasnim.
But Nasrin Shahkarami refutes these official accounts. She said her daughter’s body only had head injuries and the rest of the body was in good condition, in the Radio Farda video.
She also denied that the girl seen entering the building in the CCTV footage is her daughter.
“No one can prove that this is Nika. A shadow was captured on camera, the girl is wearing a mask and it is not clear what is seen in these images. I don’t believe this is Nika,” Shahkarami told Etemad.
Nika Shahkarami disappeared after a demonstration in Tehran, according to her mother, who confirmed that her daughter can be seen in footage of the protest on social media.
“I saw this video and the young lady in the video is Nika,” Nasrin Shahkarami told Etemad.
Nine days after her disappearance, police showed Shahkarami photos of her daughter’s body at the Kahrizak morgue, she said, according to Radio Farda.
Although other family members have been quoted by state-aligned media as supporting the idea that Nika Shahkarami died from a fall, her mother claims these statements were “coerced” by authorities.
On Wednesday, Iran’s state media carried a report in which Atash Shakarami, Nika Shahkarami’s aunt, told a reporter that the girl died after falling from an apartment building, supporting the government’s account of the teenager’s death.
In the report by state broadcaster IRIB, Atash Shahkarami said her niece was found in the backyard of the building after she fell. The aunt said she was shown photos of where Nika fell and wanted to see where it happened.
Nika’s uncle Mohsen Shahkarami also appears in the IRIB report condemning the protesters and says “we do not support any action that damages public property”.
Nasrin Shahkarami said Iranian security forces arrested her aunt and uncle and forced them to make false statements, according to BBC Persian and Radio Farda.
Shahkarami told BBC Persian that her brother was threatened not to speak or his wife and 4-year-old son would be arrested.
“They were put under intense pressure to make a false confession and televised. The (security forces) are doing everything they can to exonerate themselves,” Shahkarami said in a video provided to Radio Farda.
The UN human rights office told CNN on Thursday that it “received reports that authorities forced the family of Nika Shakarami to give a television interview, which aired on October 5, saying she died after falling from a building.”
“We call for an end to the harassment and threats against the families of the victims and those seeking accountability,” said the statement from a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office.
CNN has reached out to family members for comment.