Nika Shakarami: what happened to Iran teen found dead 10 days after burning headscarf - protests explained

The 16-year-old girl was found dead 10 days after she took part in a head-scarf burning protest in Iran

<p>Protests have broken out around the world against Iran’s treatment of women, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. (Credit: Getty Images)</p>

Protests have broken out around the world against Iran’s treatment of women, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. (Credit: Getty Images)

Protests in Iran against the country’s treament of women have continued into the sixth week, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Demonstrations broke out across the country following the death of Mahsa after she was picked up by authorities for reports of an improperly styled-headscarf. In protest of the government, and the treatment of the young woman in police custody, women across the country and the world have been cutting their hair and burning their headscarves.

One of those protesters was 16-year-old Nika Shakarami. The teenager was found dead only 10 days after she was videoed burning her headscarf in solidarity with the cause.

The issues of Amni’s death, Shakarami’s death and anti-government sentiment have made headlines around the world. Most recently and notably, the Iranian National Football Team all stood in solidarity with protesters as they refused to sing along to the country’s national anthem as it was played at the beginning of their opening match against England.

Protests have broken out around the world against Iran’s treatment of women, following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. (Credit: Getty Images)

What happened to Nika Shakarami?

Nika Shakarami was a 16-year-old girl from Tehran. The teenager had joined in on the protests - which have been continuing in Iran since 16 September - by burning her headscarf on 20 September.

The moment was filmed and posted to social media. In the video, Nika can be seen standing on a dumpster as she burns the piece of fabric in her hand, while supporters around her chanted anti-government and anti-Islamic Republic slogans.

Mika then told a friend that was being chased by police, with eyewitnesses telling CNN that they had seen her being arrested by “several big security officers”. She went missing on the same day, and later was found dead.

Iranian authorities said that Nika’s body was found in a courtyard, but did not allow for her mother, Ms Shakarami, to identify her daughter until eight days after her death. A prosecutor would later say that Nika’s death was not connected to the protests, with confusion over whether authorities were searching for a perpetrator after saying she had been pushed or had fallen from the roof.

Ms Shakarami, Nika’s mother, has accused the authorities of killing her daughter. Iranian state media released footage of a young woman walking into a building, similar to that of the one Nika died in.

State media released the footage to prove that Nika had voluntarily entered the building, where she may have been pushed or fallen from the roof to her death. However, her mother told BBC Persian that the woman in the footage was not her daughter.

Why are protests taking place?

Protests and unrest took place on the day of Nika’s memorial and vigil. Mourners had gathered to pay respects to the deceased teenager at a cemetery in Khorramabad, near her hometown.

Iranian security forces are said to have opened fire on the protesters and mourners. It comes as demonstrations have been held across the 31 proviences of Iran against the Islamic Regime government.

Young women and men have been protesting since the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September, criticising the treatment of women under the rules of the Islamic Regime government. These protests have included hair-cutting, headscarf-burning and marching in cities throughout the country.

Iranian security forces have been heavy-handed in dealing with the protests. A heavy presence has been spotted at vigils, demonstrations and protests, with authorities often turning to violence to disperse crowds who are marching against the government.