'Say her name': Iranians pay tribute to teenage 'martyr' Nika Shakarami killed in Iran protests

'Say her name': Iranians pay tribute to teenage 'martyr' Nika Shakarami killed in Iran protests
Nika Shakarami, a teenage girl who was killed and had her body stolen by Iranian security forces, has become the latest symbol of Iran's ongoing protests, in the wake of the death of Mahsa Amini.
4 min read
05 October, 2022
Tributes have poured in for Nika Shakarami, who has become the face of the ongoing Iran protests [Twitter]

Iranians are mourning the death of teenager Nika Shakarami, who was killed while taking part in anti-government protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini.

Sixteen-year-old Nika was reportedly killed on 20 September during a protest in Tehran and went missing for 10 days until her body was found by her family at a detention centre morgue.

She had messaged a friend on the day of her disappearance, saying she was being chased by security forces.

Since her death, Iranian activists and social media users have shared images and videos of the charismatic teenage activist, lauding her bravery in taking part in the protests.

The girl, who has been described as carefree and full of life, is being hailed as a new face of the ongoing Iran demonstrations and a martyr for freedom, as protesters demand an end to dictatorial rule.

A video clip of Shakarami has gone viral on social media showing her dancing and singing to an Iranian love song from the famous 1968 film 'Soltane Ghalbha', according to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. 

In the clip, Shakarami can be seen laughing along and asking friends "not to make fun of her" in a playful manner.

Farid Vahid, the director for the Jean-Jaures Middle East and North Africa observatory in Paris, described Shakarami as "full of life, full of happiness, full of youth" in a tweet.

Several others have echoed the popular 'Say Her Name' slogan under English and Persian-language hashtags of the young girl's name, alongside Amini Mahsa.

Abdy Yeganeh, policy director at non-profit group Independent Diplomat, called Shakarami's death a "tragedy and a crime" and called her "smile, joy and laugher" the spirit that the Iranian regime "is so scared of".

Former Iranian national team footballer Ali Karimi, who has voiced continuous support for the ongoing protests, posted an image of Shakarami on Friday.

Meanwhile, several artists have produced illustrations of Nika in tribute. One artist - Mohammad Shokrani - drew the 16-year-old alongside the Persian-language caption 'Sing Until the City Becomes a Woman’s Song,' in reference to the viral video of Shakarami singing.

The Tadeegh Art Studio also illustrated Shakarami, who they called a "freedom fighter".

After her death, Shakarami's body was stolen by authorities and then secretly buried in a village 40 kilometres away from Khorramabad - her father’s hometown where her family wanted to bury her, according to reports. The teenager was laid to rest on her 17th birthday.

Shakarami's body was found in a detention centre morgue in Tehran, where she was identified by her family, who could only see her face, and not her body, for a few seconds.

Iranian security forces delivered her dead body to the morgue, with her nose reportedly smashed and her skull broken from multiple blows.

In a video widely circulated online, her mother can be seen saying "congratulations on your martyrdom" in tribute to her slain daughter.

For over three weeks, Iranians have been demonstrating against the death of Mahsa or Zhina Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who was pronounced dead on 16 September following her arrest in Tehran.

Amini was apprehended by Iran's so-called morality police for allegedly not wearing the hijab "correctly".

The young woman’s family has accused authorities of insulting and beating her prior to her death.

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Human rights organisations, world leaders and celebrities have condemned Amini's alleged killing and the brutal suppression of the demonstrations, in which at least at least 133 people have been killed, according to Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based group.