Protests in Iran: Security forces crack down on Nika Shahkarami mourners at the ceremony




CNN

Mourners gathered to mark the 40th day since the death of Nika Shahkarami, the Iranian teenager who went missing on September 20 after attending protests in the capital Tehran, were met with gunfire and tear gas by security forces, according to video posted on social media and social media. Geolocated by CNN.

The video showed tear gas smoke near a bridge lined with mourners near the town of Veysian. Apparent gunshots were heard in another video clip shared on social media. It is not clear if there were any casualties.

The teenager’s maternal aunt, Atash Shahkarami, posted a photo on Instagram saying the 40th day celebration would be held on Thursday at a cemetery in Lorestan province.

The video shows mourners holding photos of Shahkarami and chanting “Khamenei will be overthrown in this bloody year”, “We are all Nika, come to fight”, “Death to the dictator” and “Death to Khamenei”.

When the 16-year-old disappeared, he was taking part in one of the countrywide protests against the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in state custody last month. arrested by the moral police of the country.

On Thursday, CNN published an exclusive investigation into the final hours of Shahkarami’s life.

Iranian authorities said Shahkarami’s body was found in a backyard on the morning of September 21. His mother was not given access to identify him until eight days later.

CCTV footage released by authorities just after midnight, when September 20 became September 21, showed the image of a masked man who was said to be entering a building in Tehran where Shahkarami was not alive and still under construction.

A Tehran prosecutor initially said he had been thrown from the roof of the building and that his death was “unrelated” to that day’s protests, but while he apparently ruled the death a homicide, he did not say whether there were any suspects. in research ,

But dozens of videos and eyewitness accounts obtained exclusively by CNN indicate Shahkarami appears to have been chased and detained by Iranian security forces that night. A key witness, Ladan, told CNN that he saw Shahkarami being arrested during the protest by “some burly security officers in street clothes” bundled into a car.

On Wednesday, after CNN asked the government to comment on the evidence in this investigation, Iranian media quoted a Tehran prosecutor as saying Shahkarami’s death was a suicide. Iranian authorities have yet to respond to CNN’s repeated questions about his death.

Thursday’s crackdown on Veysian mourners came after clashes erupted across Iran as people attempted to mark 40 days since Amini’s death, an important day of mourning in Iranian and Islamic tradition.

On the same day, a Shiite shrine in the city of Shiraz was attacked on Wednesday, killing at least 15 and injuring more than 40, the ISIS-affiliated Amaq news agency said. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Iranian leaders have joined the attack with anti-government protesters.

On Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyyed Ali Khamenei vowed to take action against the attackers. “The perpetrator or perpetrators of this gloomy climate will certainly be punished,” he said.

Iran’s military commanders threatened further crackdowns on anti-government protesters after they said they were “complicit” in Wednesday’s attack, according to statements published by the official state news agency IRNA.​​

The commanders did not provide evidence of the claim.

The Iranian Armed Forces said in a statement that the protests were designed to create “insecurity and chaos” and that “this terrorist act is also part of that design.”

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said evidence from the attack showed that “foreign agents” had “designed a multi-layered project” to undermine the country.

“We certainly will not allow Iran’s national security and interests to be played by terrorists and foreign meddlers who claim to defend human rights,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.