Family of Hadis Najafi, Tiktoker killed in Iran protests, share ‘nightmares’

The sister of Hadis Najafi, a 22-year-old woman who was killed by Iranian security forces, wants the world to know exactly why her sister was driven to put her life on the line.

Hadis took part in protests that shook the country to the core when six bullets pierced her body and killed her. All she wanted was “basic rights” and “a comfortable life with peace in the country where we were born,” Afsun Najafi, 30, told The Daily Beast.

“My sister was a child. She was only 22 and full of hope and longing… it didn’t take that many shots,” she said.

Hadis, an avid TikToker, was killed on September 21 after taking to the streets of Tehran to protest the death of another 22-year-old Iranian, Mahsa Amini.

Amini’s death at the hands of Iran’s Guidance Patrol on September 16 – after he was allegedly severely beaten for violating the country’s mandatory hijab laws – has sparked ongoing civil unrest across the country. According to Iran Human Rights, more than 200 protesters have been killed in the demonstrations and unrest so far after government crackdowns.

“I hope countries like the United States will hear the cry of the Iranian people”

— Afsun Najafi

Afsun told The Daily Beast Mahsa’s death affected her sister so much that she felt compelled to take part in the demonstrations, despite the risk of violent clashes that often take place during anti-government protests in Iran.

“She was crying,” Afsun said of her sister after news of Mahsa’s death broke. “She looked at the photos of Mahsa Amini and cried. She was very upset about this and went to the protest.”

The day Hadis was killed was hazy, Afsun said. She told The Daily Beast that her sister went to the demonstration around 7:30 p.m. local time. Just an hour and a half later, her family received a call from a hospital worker informing them that Hadis was injured. The family did not learn of her death until 3 a.m

Hadis Najafi, left, and Afsun Najafi

Photo illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast; Getty; Courtesy of the Najafi family

“I just screamed and ran into the street… I cried. Hadis and I were roommates…we slept together at night and talked until morning. She was my best friend,” Afsun told The Daily Beast.

After her death, Hadis has become a symbol of protests across Iran, much like Mahsa. But now the Najafi family are increasingly concerned that they themselves could be targeted by the Iranian government.

“My family and I have no security. We are constantly stressed and have nightmares,” Afsun said.

But like many other citizens, they don’t let that fear stop them from speaking out about the systemic injustice that women in Iran face every day.

“Iranian women have no civil rights. We Iranian women don’t want rules for our bodies,” a 42-year-old Iranian photographer who took part in the protests and wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals told The Daily Beast. “Iranian women do not have the right to sing and dance in places where men are present. They have deprived us of the slightest freedom, that is the right to choose our hijab.”

“I hope countries like the United States will hear the cry of the Iranian people,” she added.

Another Iranian woman, who also requested anonymity for fear of retribution, made similar comments about the demonstrations and the resilience of those protesting across the country.

“The average age of the protesters is mostly very young or teenage girls,” she told The Daily Beast. “That makes me proud. That makes me feel like I have to do something. I have to do my bit for these new generations.”

She explained why some protesters decided to cut their hair as a symbol of strength and resistance.

“We Iranian girls love our hair,” she said. “Cuting this means we are willing to sacrifice everything we have. It’s a part of our body that we’re willing to cut off just to show the world we don’t even care. This is how we show that we are strong. We are opposites and we want what we want. We want our rights. We want our freedom. This is how we want to live.”

After the tragic murder of her young sister, Najafi continues to hope for a better future for women in Iran.

“I’m very hopeful,” Najafi told The Daily Beast. “I don’t know what will happen, but my sister’s soul must rest in peace, not just my sister, but all the dead.” Family of Hadis Najafi, Tiktoker killed in Iran protests, share ‘nightmares’


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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