BBC World Service Presents: Nika’s Last Breath

BBC Eye investigates a secret document that alleges the teen protester was molested and killed by Iran security forces


BBC World Service

30 April 2024 – According to an alleged official document leaked to the BBC, an Iranian teenager was sexually assaulted and killed by Iran’s security forces.

Nika’s Last Breath – a documentary by BBC Eye, premiered today as part of BBC World Service Presents – scrutinises the confidential document and maps the final movements of 16-year-old Nika Shakarami, after she vanished during the anti-government protests in September 2022.

In September 2022, Nika Shakarami attended a Woman, Life, Freedom protest in Tehran. That day, pictures taken of her burning hijabs made her an icon in the eyes of Iran’s protesters, and a target in the eyes of the Iranian government. Nika never went home.

Her family found her body in a mortuary more than a week after she disappeared. Iran’s authorities denied Nika’s death was connected to the demonstration and, after conducting their own investigation, said that she had died by suicide, after jumping from a building. Her mother, Nasrin Shakarami, never accepted it.

Now, a purported official document has been leaked to the BBC, saying the teenager was sexually assaulted and killed by undercover agents working for Iran’s security forces.

In Nika’s Last Breath, BBC Eye investigates this shocking report, believed to be written by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which says she was hunted down, sexually assaulted and bludgeoned to death. The leaked document – a summary of a five-hour hearing held by the IRGC into Nika Shakarami’s case – includes what it says are the names of her alleged killers and the senior commanders who tried to hide the truth.

The BBC spent months checking every detail in it with multiple sources. The BBC Eye documentary details the extensive verification process undertaken by the production team, indicating the papers obtained by the BBC do chronicle the teenager’s last movements. In Nika’s Last Breath, gruelling documentary evidence, striking animation, as well as drama, are all brought together to reconstruct the last hours of 16-year-old Nika Shakarami.

Evidence presented by the BBC indicates that her death wasn’t a suicide, as officially claimed by the Iranian authorities. It was a killing.

BBC Eye put the report’s allegations to the Iranian government. They did not respond.

Nika’s Last Breath, from the BBC World Service, is available for viewing in the UK – via BBC iPlayer – and internationally, on the BBC World Service YouTube channel. Read the story on the BBC News website – via in the UK; and internationally – on, BBC Studios global digital news platform.

Nika’s Last Breath is produced and directed by Bertram Hill and Aida Miller.


About BBC World Service Presents

BBC World Service Presents showcases the breadth of journalism provided by the BBC World Service to 318m people weekly around the globe across 42 language services including English. For three days from Monday 29 April, screenings, live programme recordings, speeches and panel discussions will examine the key issues facing journalism and highlight the BBC’s unique position as the world’s most trusted international news broadcaster.

May 1, 2024 3:00am ET by Newsdesk  

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