BBC documentary on arrest of Iranian woman found dead provokes ire of authorities

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Iranian teenager Nika Shakrami, killed after her arrest during protests in Iran, seen here on a cell phone, October 6, 2022. AFP

She had become one of the leading faces of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” uprising that swept through Iran for months in 2022. Videos showing Iranian teenager Nika Shakarami, aged 16, dancing and singing have gone around the world.

She disappeared on September 20, 2022, during a demonstration following the death of Mahsa (Jina) Amini in police custody for an ill-fitting veil, four days earlier. Her family found Nika’s lifeless body nine days later in a morgue, her face and head deformed. The Iranian authorities, from the first day, continued to speak of suicide as the cause of his death. What those close to Nika Shakarami have always contested.

Now, a chilling documentary, broadcast on April 30 on the BBC World Service, entitled Nika’s last breathdemonstrates, with supporting evidence, that the teenager was sexually assaulted and beaten during her arrest, before being killed by three agents belonging to the Revolutionary Guards, the country’s ideological army.

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Never before have such details been revealed about the treatment inflicted by the Islamic Republic’s security apparatus on an arrested person. The broadcast of this documentary caused an outcry within the regime, which tried, through the voice of some of its officials, to discredit it, by publishing other documents supposed to support the thesis of the young girl’s suicide.

The documents obtained by the BBC, marked “highly confidential”include records of the interviews of all the officers allegedly involved in the death of Nika Shakarami and the senior managers who allegedly attempted to cover up the incident, as well as their names.

Batons and tasers

According to documents obtained by the BBC, Nika Shakarami was identified during a demonstration as a potential “leader” and therefore followed by secret service agents, infiltrated among the demonstrators. Arrested, the young girl was placed in the back of a refrigerated van. Although handcuffed, she continued to defend herself by kicking and insulting the three officers who were with her in the vehicle. The head of the unit is in front, with the driver. The team tries to find a detention center in which to place the teenager.

The three officers make her lie down on the floor of the van. One of them sits on her, supposedly to stop her from moving. The same man, according to one of his comrades, slipped his hand into the pants of the young girl, who was struggling. Afterwards, “control of the situation has slipped from our grasp”, declared, during his hearing by the Revolutionary Guards, another of the three agents, according to documents obtained by the BBC. Everyone starts hitting the young girl with batons and punches. The report states: “Three batons and three tasers were used. It is not clear which blow caused the death. »

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