How Two Teens Became the New Faces of Protests in Iran.
The Iranian security forces killed the 16-year-old girls as a way to stop the protests that have been going on in the country for the past month.
As protests across Iran last month called for an end to the Islamic Republic’s rule, two teenage girls left their homes to join the protesters. Young women in big cities and small towns threw their headscarves on bonfires and chanted “Women, Life, Freedom.”
It was the last time their families would see them alive. One family looked for their daughter desperately for 10 days, posting pleas for help on social media. The other family found out what happened to their daughter within hours of her going missing.
But the sad end was still the same. The security forces killed the teens who went missing, their families and human rights groups said. The head of one girl was smashed, and the head of the other girl was cracked with a baton. Their bodies were returned to their families, but they were broken and scarred. They were both 16 at the time.
Nika Shakarami and Sarina Esmailzadeh, both teenagers, have become the new faces of the protests that have been shaking the country for the past month. These protests are the biggest and longest-lasting civil unrest to hit Iran since 2009. Their names are a rallying cry for the anger that is being directed at the leaders of the Islamic Republic. Their faces are on posters that are secretly put up on walls in cities all over Iran, and protesters carry banners with their names on them.
Women and girls have been on the front lines of the protests since they started almost a month ago. So have young people, including high school students, who have had to face repeated crackdowns by the police.
Iran’s Committee to Protect Children’s Rights, which works to protect children’s rights, says that 28 children and teenagers have been killed and that many more have been jailed. This week, UNICEF, the UN agency for children, said it was “extremely concerned” by reports that children and teenagers were being killed, hurt, and jailed.
Families of the two teens and human rights groups like Amnesty International and Iran Human Rights say that the two girls were killed by security forces after taking part in different protests in late September. Nika was in Tehran, and Sarina was in Karaj, a city outside of the capital. In interviews, Nika’s mother said that the security forces cracked her skull, broke her teeth, and moved her cheekbone. Sarina’s head was broken when she was hit with a baton so many times that she bled to death.