Missing Iranian teenager was assaulted and killed by security forces, leaked file says

Nika Shakarami, 16, disappeared after attending an anti-government protest in Tehran in 2022

A woman carries a picture of Nika Shakarami at a rally in Melbourne marking the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death in custody of Iran's morality police. EPA
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An Iranian teenager who went missing during anti-government protests was assaulted and killed by three men working for security services, according to a leaked document.

Nika Shakarami, 16, disappeared following a protest in Tehran in September 2022, after she was seen burning a headscarf. At the demonstration, protesters had chanted “death to the dictator” – a reference to Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The file, acquired by BBC News, shows that she was being watched by security forces at the September 20 demonstration in Keshavarz Boulevard.

Nika's family said she vanished that evening, after telling a friend she was being followed by police. Family members found her body nine days later at a mortuary. Officials claimed Nika had killed herself, but her family rejected this.

The leaked document, labelled “highly confidential”, details the case regarding Nika by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the security force that defends the country's Islamic establishment. It gives the names of the men said to have killed Nika and the commanders who attempted a cover up.

The file contains horrific details on what happened to the teenager after her arrest.

Undercover security units were monitoring the demonstration, the report says. Team 12 was keeping a close watch on Nika as they suspected she was a leader, “due to her unconventional behaviour and repeated calls with her mobile phone”.

She was arrested after attempting to flee and put in the team's van, where she was assaulted.

In the back of the van, security unit members restrained Nika and one man sexually assaulted her while she was handcuffed, the report says. She fought back, kicking and shouting, and in response, the men beat her with batons.

The document includes confessions by the three men said to have been responsible, Arash Kalhor, Sadegh Monjazy, and Behrooz Sadeghy. The team leader was Morteza Jalil, who was sitting up front with the driver.

The security unit men said things “got out of hand”, and Nika was killed while fighting for her life.

Nika's mother said last year that postmortem records showed her daughter suffered severe head injuries, consistent with being struck repeatedly.

She became another symbol of the anti-protest movement that shook Iran two years ago. Protesters chanting the slogan of “Woman, Life and Freedom” demand authorities ensure women are entitled to basic human rights.

Demonstrations broke out across the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in hospital on September 16, 2022, days after being detained by morality police in Tehran for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

Last week, Nika’s family said her sister, Aida, had been arrested by the morality police for violating Iran’s hijab laws. The 22-year-old was released a week later, they said.

Updated: April 30, 2024, 10:53 AM