A Political and Religious Assassination

When I first saw Sandra Fluke on television after the character assassination by the leader of the evangelical party, Rush Limbaugh, I wondered if I would see Neda again. I did. I beheld fear and resolve to live……unbowed and broken.

When I saw Neda die before the world’s eyes, she looked into that in us that will one day die, and if there is a spirit there that come from God, then, we will never die.

Neda and Sandra were assassinated. Rush Limbaugh was not trying to make a point, he was trying to destroy her, because she got in the way of a birth-control plot hatched in the Vatican by the Pope to render the Peace, Freedom, and Love generation – dirty baby killers who hate human life and freedom. Ratzinger hated any alternative to his Catholic religion. Why then did he give the Nazi salute when he was fifteen? Did this – virgin – ever fall in love with a woman? He will never get pregnant and give birth to life itself! What is he good for?

I fell in love with Neda, and was at the Federal Building in downtown Eugene waving a green flag (scarf) full of red roses, and ringing a tiny bell. No one honked. No one knew who Neda was. I wrote her name on a piece of cardboard, with a farewell to another victim of the War on Women.

The Mullahs, the Pope, and Bin Laden, are/were alarmed, that using our God-given sexuality to oppress and blackmail all of humanity – so only a few can own all the power – was not working anymore…….thanks to Hippie

Like all the wars these evil men of Satan have gotten us into, their reasons for us dying for nothing, is a damned lie – total fiction!

Hell no, we won’t go! Make love, not war!

(image of me throwing the bird, right here)


Death of Neda Agha-Soltan n
Born January 23, 1983
Tehran, Iran
Died June 20, 2009 (aged 26)[1]

Footage of the death of Nedā Āghā-Soltān[11] (Persian: نِدا آقا سُلطان‎ – Nedā Āġā Soltān; January 23, 1983 – June 20, 2009) drew international attention after she was killed during the 2009 Iranian election protests.[12] Her death was captured on video by bystanders and broadcast over the Internet[13] and the video became a rallying point for the opposition.[13] It was described as “probably the most widely witnessed death in human history”.[14]

Nedā (ندا) is a word used in Classic Persian and modern Persian[15] to mean “voice”, “calling” (sometimes understood as a “divine message”, but this is not the etymological sense of ندا), and she has been referred to as the “voice of Iran”.[16][17][18] Her death became iconic in the struggle of Iranian protesters against the disputed election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


[edit] BiographyĀghā-Soltān was the middle child of a middle class family of three children,[19] whose family resided in a fourth floor flat on Meshkini Street in the Tehrānpars district of Tehran.[20] Her father is a civil servant and her mother is a homemaker.[19] She was graduating from Islamic Āzād University, where she had studied Islamic theology as well as secular philosophies but she withdrew after two semesters of study for two reasons. One because of a disagreement of her husband “Amir” and his family and the second reason was because of the atmosphere and the pressure of the authorities for her appearance and dress in university.[21] She was divorced, and according to her mother, had difficulty finding work because of how employers perceived her.[22]

Āghā-Soltān was an aspiring, underground musician, who was studying her craft through private voice and music lessons.[23][24] She had studied the violin and had an as-yet-undelivered piano on order at the time of her death.[8] She worked for her family’s travel agency[10] Āghā-Soltān enjoyed travelling. She had studied Turkish, hoping it would aid her as a guide for Iranians on foreign tours in Turkey.[25] It was in Turkey, more than two months prior to her death, that she met her fiancé, 37-year-old Caspian Makan, who worked as a photojournalist, and filmmaker in Tehran and after that she changed her mind about becoming a tour guide and decided to start photography with her fiancé Caspian Makan.[19]

Those who knew her maintain that Āghā-Soltān had not previously been very political – she had not supported any particular candidate in the 2009 Iran elections[26][27] – but that anger over the election results prompted her to join the protest.[19] Her voice and music teacher, Hamid Panahi, who was accompanying Āghā-Soltān during the protest and can be seen on the video trying to comfort the dying woman, told the media: “She couldn’t stand the injustice of it.” Panahi went on to state: “All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted.”

Her name is often miscited as “Neda Soltani”. Nedā Soltāni is a different woman, whose Facebook profile photo was mistakenly published in many articles about the incident. She tried in vain to remove her photo from the internet. Finally, Nedā Soltāni had to flee from Iran and was granted asylum in Germany in 2010.[28][29][30]

[edit] Circumstances of her deathOn June 20, 2009, at around 6:30 p.m., Nedā Āghā-Soltān was sitting in her Peugeot 206 in traffic on Kārgar Avenue in the city of Tehran.[13] She was accompanied by her music teacher, Hamid Panahi.[26][31] The four were on their way to participate in the protests against the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential election.[32] The car’s air conditioner was not working well, so she stopped her car some distance from the main protests and got out on foot to escape the heat. She was standing and observing the sporadic protests in the area when she was shot in the chest.[33]

As captured on amateur video,[13] she collapsed to the ground and was tended to by a doctor, her music teacher, and others from the crowd. Someone in the crowd around her shouted, “She has been shot! Someone, come and take her!”[34] The videos were accompanied by a message from a doctor, later identified as Dr. Arash Hejazi, who said he had been present during the incident (but has since fled Iran out of fear of government reprisals):[35]

At 19:05 June 20th Place: Kārgar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Sālehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father [sic, later identified as her music teacher] watching the protests was shot by a Basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight at her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than two minutes. The protests were going on about one kilometre away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gas used among them, towards Sālehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me.[3]

Her last words were, “I’m burning, I’m burning!”, according to Panāhi.[26] She died en route to Tehran’s Shariati hospital.[19] However, the civilian physician that tended to Nedā in the video has stated that Nedā died on the scene.[36][37] Hejāzi, standing one metre away from her when she was shot, tried to stanch her wound with his hands. Hejāzi said nearby members of the crowd pulled a man from his motorcycle while shouting: “We got him, we got him,” disarmed him, obtained his identity card and identified him as a member of the Basij militia (government paramilitary). The militiaman was shouting, “I didn’t want to kill her.” The protesters let him go, but they kept the alleged killer’s identity card and took many photographs of him.[4] A recent documentary on the shooting contained a previously unseen clip of demonstrators capturing the militiaman seconds after the shooting.[38] Logically we therefore cannot deduce whether Nedā was shot from the rooftop or from the street hence questioning the apparent witness accounts.

[edit] VideosSee also: Role of the Internet during 2009 Iranian election protests

A frame from the video of Agha-Soltān’s death by gunfireThe videos spread across the internet virally, quickly gaining the attention of international media and viewers.[39] Discussions about the incident on Twitter, using a hashtag of #neda, became one of the “‘trending topics'” by the end of the day on June 20, 2009.[13] The incident was not originally reported by the state-controlled Iranian media, but was instead first reported on by international media. The video has been shown on CNN and other news networks.[40]

There are three videos depicting her death. One shows her collapsing to the ground, apparently still conscious.[41] The second shows her only after she appears to lose consciousness and begins to bleed heavily.[42] The third video shows her just as she begins to bleed profusely.[43]

In the first video, the cameraman approaches a group of people huddled together in front of a parked car at the side of the street. As he moves closer, she can be seen collapsing to the pavement with a large bloodstain at her feet. Two men, Hamid Panāhi and Ārash Hejāzi, are seen trying to revive her. The elderly Panāhi was initially assumed to be her father, but later confirmed to be her music teacher.[19] As seconds pass, her eyes roll to one side and she appears to lose consciousness. Blood begins to pour from her nose and mouth, and screams are heard.[41]

In the second video, the cameraman approaches her and the two men; the camera passes over them and centers on her face; her stare is blank and she is bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth. Loud screaming can be heard.[42]

The man next to her can apparently be heard speaking in the first video, saying her name:

Nedā, don’t be afraid. Nedā, don’t be afraid. [obscured by others yelling] Nedā, stay with me. Nedā stay with me![41]

The videos were awarded the George Polk Award for Videography for 2009.[44]

[edit] Alleged killerThe man accused of killing Nedā Āghā-Soltān has been identified as Abbās Kārgar Jāvid, a pro-government militiaman, after photographs of the Basiji’s ID cards appeared on the internet, according to The Times.[45]

[edit] Aftermath
Grave site immediately following burialAfter being pronounced dead at Shari’ati hospital, Āghā-Soltān was buried at the Behesht-e Zahrā cemetery in southern Tehran; she was denied a proper funeral by government authorities.[46][47] The authorities had allegedly set aside empty graves for those killed during the protests. Her family agreed to the removal of her organs for transplanting to medical patients.[33] The Iranian government has issued a ban on collective prayers in mosques for Āghā-Soltān in the aftermath of the incident.[48] Soonā Samsāmi, the executive director of the Women’s Freedom Forum, who has been relaying information about the protests inside Iran to the international media, told the foreign press that Āghā-Soltān’s immediate family were threatened by authorities if they permitted a gathering to mourn her.[49] Samsami stated, “They were threatened that if people wanted to gather there the family would be charged and punished.”[49]

Kāspian Mākān (Āghā-Soltān’s fiancé) told BBC: “Nedā had said that even if she lost her life and got a bullet in her heart, she would carry on”.[50]

Time and other news sources have speculated that due to the widespread attention given to Āghā-Soltān’s story by social media networks and mainstream news organizations, she is already being hailed as a martyr.[25][31] There is also speculation that the Shi’ite cycle of mourning on the third (June 23), seventh (June 27), and 40th (July 30) day after a person’s death may give the protests sustained momentum, in similar fashion to the Iranian Revolution, where each commemoration of a demonstrator’s death sparked renewed protests, resulting in more deaths, feeding a cycle that eventually resulted in the overthrowing of Iran’s monarchy.[51]

On June 22, Iranian presidential candidates Mehdi Karroubi and Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who are contesting the validity of the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called upon Iranian citizens to commemorate Āghā-Soltān.[46] Karroubi announced his appeal on Facebook, asking demonstrators to gather in the center of the Iranian capital at 4:00 pm local time.[46] The chief of the Tehran Police announced that his department had no involvement in the fatal incident.[1] Later that day, riot police armed with live ammunition and tear gas dispersed a crowd of between 200 and 1,000 protesters who had gathered in Tehran’s Haft-e Tir Square. The protests followed online calls for tribute to Āghā-Soltān and others killed during the demonstrations.[52] Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, a senior Iranian cleric and vocal critic of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, called for three days of public mourning for the death of Nedā.

Kāspian Mākān, following Nedā’s death,escaped to Canada. He recently visited Israel as a guest of Israel’s Channel 2. “I have come here out of the brotherhood of nations,” he told Channel 2.[53]

[edit] FuneralAbout 70 mourners gathered outside Niloufar mosque in Abbas Abad, where the Āghā-Soltān family attended services. A leaflet posted on the mosque’s door read, “There is no commemoration here for Nedā Āghā-Soltān.” Many in the crowd wore black. Some recited poems. After about ten minutes, paramilitary arrived on motorcycles and dispersed the attendees.[54]

On June 24, The Guardian reported the results of interviews of neighbours who said Āghā-Soltān’s family had been forced to vacate their apartment some days after her death.[55] Reuters reported that supporters of presidential candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi stated they would release thousands of balloons on Friday, June 26, 2009 with the message “Nedā you will always remain in our hearts” imprinted on them.[56]

On June 23, it was reported that, to prevent Āghā-Soltān’s family’s home from becoming a place of pilgrimage, government authorities told the family to remove the black mourning banners from outside the home.[57]

On Friday, July 31, 2009, 40th day anniversary of the killings of such youth as Nedā Āghā-Soltān, Sohrāb Ā’arābi and Āshkān Sohrābi was held in Tehran where thousands of Iranians mourned for the loss of the victims.[58] Reports also came of gatherings in the thousands in cities of Rasht, Shirāz and Mashad.[59]

[edit] Desecration of her grave
photo by Arash Nikkhah 2011On November 16, 2009, supporters of the Iranian regime desecrated her grave and removed her gravestone.[38] Later, on December 31, 2009, supporters of the Iranian government defaced the portrait on her grave by shooting at it multiple times.[60]

[edit] Iranian government reactionsThe university branch of female members of Basij held a gathering in Tehran in front of the British embassy, demanding that Arash Hejazi be returned to Iran (as witness or suspect). As they are assumed to be close to the government, it means the government condemns the crime and is pursuing it (their way). According to an Iranian official, announcing her as a martyr is possible. Iran’s ambassador to Mexico, Mohammad Hassan Ghadiri, suggested in an interview on June 25, 2009 that the CIA could have been involved in Āghā-Soltān’s death. Ambassador Ghadiri questioned how the shooting was video taped so effectively, asserting that the incident occurred away from other demonstrations. He also stated that using a woman would be more effective in accomplishing the goals the CIA is purported to desire.[61] Ambassador Ghadiri said “the bullet that was found in her head was not a bullet that you could find in Iran” (he thought she was shot in head). The account of Doctor Hejazi was that Āghā-Soltān was shot in the chest from the front, as there was no exit wound, and the video evidence showing a wound to the chest.[62] Hejāzi is the man seen in the video placing his hands on Āghā-Soltān’s chest to staunch her bleeding (as described above under section Circumstances of death).

During her Friday sermon on June 26, the Supreme Leader’s appointed speaker Āyatollah Āhmad Khātami said “evidence shows that [protesters] have done it themselves and have raised propaganda against the system.”[63] Eye witnesses at the scene of the shooting said Āghā-Soltān was shot by a member of the pro-government Basij militia.[64][65][66] Some of the eye-witnesses say she was shot from the ground, some say from the rooftop.

Iran’s police chief, brigadier general Āhmadi-Moghaddam told the press on June 30, 2009 that the Iranian police and Ministry of Intelligence filed an arrest warrant for Interpol to arrest Dr. Ārash Hejāzi, an eyewitness of Nedā’s death, for poisoning the international atmosphere against the Iranian government and telling misinformation about Nedā’s death by giving his account of the incident to foreign news media.[67]

Ezzatollah Zarghami, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, told the press on July 4, 2009 that the videos of Nedā’s death were all made by BBC and CNN.[68][69][70]

In November 2009, Iran’s embassy in London sent a letter of protest to The Queen’s College, Oxford about the college establishing the Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship in Philosophy.[71]

In December 2009, Iranian state television aired a report about Āghā-Soltān’s death, portraying it as a western plot. The program argued that Āghā-Soltān simulated her death with accomplices, and that she was killed afterwards, having no knowledge of her partners’ intentions.[72]

[edit] Claims of forced confessionsAccording to The Times, quoted from Mr. Mākān and Ms. Āghā-Soltān’s parents, officials tried to get them to confess that it was opposition protestors that had killed Nedā, and not government militiamen. They were given incentives such as declaring Nedā to be a martyr and giving the family a pension if they complied. Mr. Makan and Nedā’s family refused the offer.[38]

Mr. Panāhi was later forced by the government to change his story. The new version of events were retold by Panāhi on state television.[73]

[edit] Response to the Iranian governmentIn December 2009, her family accused the security forces of killing her. This was the strongest statement the family of Nedā Āghā-Soltān made since her death. This accusation followed the spread of an Iranian government-proposed theory blaming a “conspiracy of western governments” for the killing. “I openly declare that no one, apart from the government, killed Nedā. Her killer can only be from the government,” her father told the BBC’s Persian service by telephone from Iran.[74]

[edit] Oxford Graduate ScholarshipMain article: Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship
The Nedā Āghā-Soltān Graduate Scholarship is a scholarship for post-graduate philosophy students at The Queen’s College, Oxford, with preference given to students of Iranian citizenship or heritage. The college received offers from two anonymous donors to establish a scholarship, followed by many individual donations from members of the public and former students of Queen’s. The college aims to raise £65,000 to establish the scholarship on a permanent basis. The first recipient of the scholarship is Arianne Shahvis, a philosophy student of Iranian descent, who described the award as “a great honour”.

About Royal Rosamond Press

I am an artist, a writer, and a theologian.
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