Disputing Iran’s version, mom says teen was beaten to death

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The mother of a 16-year-old Iranian girl has disputed official claims that her daughter fell to her death from a high building, saying the teen was killed by blows to the head as part of the crackdown on anti-hijab protests roiling the country.

Nasreen Shakarami also said authorities kept her daughter Nika’s death a secret for nine days and then snatched the body from a morgue to bury her in a remote area, against the family’s wishes. The bereaved mother spoke in a video message Thursday to Radio Farda, the Persian-language arm of the U.S.-funded station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.


Nika Shakarami has become the latest icon of the protests, seen as the gravest threat to Iran’s ruling elites in years. Attempts by authorities in recent days to portray the teen’s death as an accident could signal concern that the incident is fueling further anger against the government.

The protests, which enter their fourth week Saturday, were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police. They had detained Amini for alleged violations of the country’s strict Islamic dress code.

Young women have often been leading the protests, tearing off and defiantly waving their headscarves as they call for toppling the government.

The protests quickly spread to communities across Iran and have been met by a harsh government crackdown, including beatings, arrests and killings of demonstrators, as well as internet disruptions.

Human rights groups estimate that dozens of protesters have been killed over the past three weeks. On Thursday, the London-based group Amnesty International published its findings about what appears to be the single deadliest incident so far — in the city of Zahedan on Sept. 30.

The report said Iranian security forces killed at least 66 people, including children, and wounded hundreds, after firing live rounds at protesters, bystanders and worshippers in a violent crackdown that day. Iranian authorities claimed the Zahedan violence involved unnamed separatists. More than a dozen people have been killed since then in the area, the report said.

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