The following video of the death of an Iranian protester is graphic and potentially triggering; do not view it if you feel you can not watch it.

But if you can view it, you probably should:

The woman’s name was Neda. She was executed by the Basij for the offense of protesting against her government. The man by her side, grieving, is her father.

The name Neda translates into “The Call” in Farsi. She was well-named, for her death is perhaps the ultimate turning point in the battle between the citizens of Iran and their government. Whether or not this round of protests ultimately succeeds, Neda’s death will be remembered for what it was: the ultimate betrayal by the Iranian government of its people. Never again will the Iranian government be able to impose its will through moral and ethical means. They may be able to survive by force, for a time, but they are assiduously watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots.

Neda joins other martyrs, from the Birmingham Four to Steven Biko, whose deaths made clear to the world the moral deprivation of a government-backed anti-freedom movement. And in that way, her name will always shine brightly, a person who gave her life in the cause of freedom. But we must not ever forget that in exchange, she has given her life, and that today, her family and friends mourn that life. As should we all.

Neda was, ultimately, one of the finer examples of humanity, one of our species’ better angels, just as those who killed her are one of the lesser examples of our lineage. I am deeply proud of the Iranians who are showing the courage to keep fighting peacefully, even in the face of attacks, even in the face of death. There are those who would tell us that there is something in the culture of Islamic nations that makes them hate freedom. May these events forever end that lie. The Iranian people are like any other people, only at this moment, they are perhaps braver than some. I continue to hope and pray that they find the victory they seek, for the sake of Neda and all her fellow martyrs to the cause of freedom.

(Via Lisa Derrick)

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28 Responses to Neda

  1. I watched this video last night with my wife, and we were sick. We sat more or less speechless for an hour at least. My understanding–from the text that accompanied the video on the page where I saw it (that I cannot find right now)–is that Neda and her father were not actively taking part in the demonstration; they were standing on the side and watching. Not that this makes her death any less significant, and it is most probable that she and her father supported the protesters, but it is important to remember that there are many more people who have been killed in active resistance and that they are “martyrs” no less than Neda–not to mention those who have been arrested, are probably being tortured; those who may have died in custody that we will probably never know about; and more. The Islamic Republic is a brutal, brutal regime, and I know that for my wife and others I know who lived through the revolution in 1979, the level of brutality is not a surprise.

    My point, though, is that we should be careful of constructing a narrative for Neda that is not true to the circumstances of her death; it does no justice to her memory and implicitly renders invisible the people, men and women, who were killed actively protesting, resisting the regime. Sentimentalizing Neda can end up obscuring more than it reveals.

    I also want to say, Jeff, that I think it is important that you posted this and that nothing I said in this comment takes away from that.

  2. Pingback: Dramatic New Photos Show Extreme Police Brutality From The Iran Protests | Prose Before Hos

  3. 2
    macon d says:

    While I agree with RJN that “we should be careful of constructing a narrative for Neda that is not true to the circumstances of her death,” we should also notice the broader revolution represented by the recording of her death. As Henry Giroux wrote just recently, there’s something happening here:

    it would be a mistake to simply align the new media exclusively with the forces of domination and commercialism as many do in the United Sates–with what Allen Feldman calls ‘total spectrum violence.’ The Iranian uprising with its recognition of the image as a key force of social power makes clear that cultural politics is now constituted by a plurality of sites of resistance and social struggle, offering up new ways for young people to conceptualize how the media might be used to create alternative public spheres that enable them to claim their own voices and challenge the dominant forces of oppression. . . .

    The images and messages coming out of Iran both demonstrate the courage of this generation of young people and others while also signifying new possibilities for redefining a global democratic politics. What the dictatorship in Iran is witnessing is not simply generational discontent or the power of networking and communication sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube but a much more dangerous lesson in which democracy implies an experience in which power is shared, dialogue is connected to involvement in the public sphere, hope means imagining the unimaginable, and collective action portends the outlines of a new understanding of power, freedom, and democracy.

  4. The video of Neda’s death has, as far as I know, been removed from Facebook, but here is the text that accompanied the original posting:

    The woman is now tentatively identified
    as Neda. (Farsi for ‘Voice’ or ‘Call’)

    Basij shots to death a young woman
    in Tehran’s Saturday June 20th protests

    At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karekar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi St.

    A young woman who was standing aside with her father 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 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 2 minutes.

    The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St.

    The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me.

    Please let the world know. apologises to the family of the deceased woman for publishing these graphic photographs of her horrific death.

    We publish in the hope of securing justice for the family in her murder.

    See Huffington Post videos: Here and Here

  5. 4
    Reyhane says:

    I am Iranian, and it is so hard to watch the video when you understand what they are saying…. Neda! survive, stay with us… At the end of video some one repeating with sorrow: “Neda! Survive! “, which made me crying….

  6. More about Neda:

    6:55 PM ET — A bit more on Neda. A blogger apparently in touch with Neda’s family members offers some new details (translated by reader Nima): she was born in 1982, apparently her full name was Neda Agha-Soltan, and she was at the protest with one her professors and several other students. She was, they said, shot by a basiji riding by on a motorcycle. Also, she was apparently buried today at a large cemetery in the south of Tehran. ABC News’ Lara Setrakian writes, “Hearing reports Neda was buried in Behesht Zahra cemetery earlier today, memorial service cancelled on orders from authorities.”

    From The Huffington Post

  7. 6
    Kalyan Deb says:

    Precious blood was gushing out of her frail frame
    Lying at her father’s feet on the sprawling boulevard of Tehran
    His pride, his only doting possession
    A blessed gift of God on the footsteps of a commotion alike
    Three decades earlier he embraced with all his vive
    Standing today utterly disillusioned
    Among the thousands of youngs around
    Neda fought alongside and was snuffed out of her prime life
    Chanting for freedom to be her cherished birth right

  8. 7
    Roxanne Ivey says:


    For every secret sealed in flame,
    Each grief engraved without a name,
    I’ll summon tender truths from shame,
    With tears my talisman.

    I’ll shred the shroud of disbelief
    And scatter ashes of relief,
    Then weave these words into a wreath
    No season can upbraid.

    I’ll lift the earth into the sky
    So fallen stars again will rise;
    Your suffering is my battle cry–
    You did not die alone.

    ~Roxanne Ivey

  9. 8
    RonF says:

    The fact that Ms. Agha-Soltan was likely not actively participating in the demonstrations does not mean – at least in my mind – that she is not a martyr. It just means that the nature of her martyrdom is different from the meme of martyrdom that we are used to. That meme has, perhaps ironically, been perverted in the name of Islam in order to tragically deceive and misdirect people to style themselves as martyrs when they actually become suicidal murderers.

    But her martyrdom was because of her determination to be a witness. The technology is different, now. The authorities thought they could control it. But they can’t. They didn’t understand how the technology worked. They didn’t understand some of the technology even existed, probably. But that’s just electricity and light and is meaningless in and of itself. Hell, I move this around every day. My job is to figure out why they’re not going where we want them to in the way we want them to do so. But they’re just electrons or photons. What gives them meaning, what gives everything meaning, is people.

    What’s key is that the authorities didn’t understand the need, the desire, and the will to witness what is going on, to know what is going on, to share it and to share in it. Ms. Agha-Soltan determined to take the risk to witness directly. And she was killed for it. She will be appropriated as a symbol, but let’s not forget her humanity.

    Pray for her family, especially for her father who held her at her last breath. I have said more than once that I ask that God save me from seeing the death of one of my children. I spent Father’s Day in the company of my son and talking to my daughter on the phone – he spent it cleaning his daughter’s blood off his hands.

    How long can this go on? Clearly the authorities cannot control the flow of information. Clearly they thought they could. I cannot imagine that they forsaw that this course of events might unfold. They have no good answer for it. I think that there is panic and uncertainty in the halls of power in Tehran tonight, although I’m sure they bluster with bravado to each other. I don’t know that there will be a short-term triumph. I pray and trust in God that there will be a long term one.

    Never again will the Iranian government be able to impose its will through moral and ethical means. They may be able to survive by force, for a time, but they are assiduously watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots.

    Well said, Jeff, and I appreciate the nod to Thomas Jefferson. Let us hope that someone like him and those that he was speaking to are in Iran’s future.

  10. 9
    MM says:

    May the blood of Neda Soltan, left as mute testament on a road in Tehran, nourish the courage of the Iranian people in the otherthrow of the tyrants who rule them. There should be an online shrine to her memory.

    I’m afraid though that there won’t be a tipping point yet, until still more precious life is wasted. That point will be reached when elements of the Iranian regime start to defect or refuse to obey orders. Then the endgame will begin.

  11. 10
    sylphhead says:

    Has everyone heard what the Iranian Election Council is saying these days?

    “The vote was fraudulent! Vote totals exceeded eligible voter totals in 170 cities and towns!”

    “That’s flat out untrue! In fact, they only did so in 50 cities and towns… ”


    Now, it should be made a caveat that Iran does not have that law whereby you have vote at a designated precinct near your residence, so people who live in one place but voted in another could, in theory, skew the numbers like this.

    But it’s worth mentioning that the vote took place on a Friday, which is an Islamic holy day, and thus this effect can reasonably be expected to have been very small. Either way, it’s another angle to which to view this election with suspicion.

    Sorry if talking about the Iranian election in general counts as a derail. If it is, delete this post.

  12. RonF: I just want to point out that I did not suggest Neda should not be considered a “martyr,” just that it is important to be true to the circumstances of her murder. Also, this statement

    [The martyrdom] meme has, perhaps ironically, been perverted in the name of Islam in order to tragically deceive and misdirect people to style themselves as martyrs when they actually become suicidal murderers.

    borders on an offensive and ignorant generalization about Islam that I unfortunately do not have the time to go into right now, and that I am not really expert enough to critique in the detail it deserves. I would just point out that there are (as far as I know) differences between Shia and Sunni Islam in this regard that your statement elides, that martyrdom has a very specific place and function in Shiite Islam–and so therefore in Iran, which is mostly Shiite–which needs to be understood and respected if we are to understand both the rhetoric and the rhythm of what may very well start happening in Iran now that there are, like Neda, martyrs there for people to mourn.

    I recognize that your intent in your comment was to honor Neda as a witness to what was going on, but it is possible to do that without slamming Islam.

  13. 12
    RonF says:

    It was not my intent to defame Islam. All religions – Judaism, Islam, Christianity, etc. – have had people appropriate their name and some of their tenets and doctrines in order to serve their own ends. That’s what I see here. These people are using the name of Islam to justify killing – I suspect both to salve their own souls and to aid in recruitment. My intent was to condemn those who act in such a fashion, not to condemn Islam.

    There are those who charge that such acts are part and parcel of Islam and others who say that what is going on is anathema to Islam. I don’t know enough about Islam to have an opinion on the subject worth either speaking or hearing.

    I also did not mean to imply that you were challenging her status as a martyr. I was picking up on the concept that it seemed to me that you were presenting that we should be careful to ensure that we recognize her for what she was and what she did and not to represent her differently. I was explaining how I saw her.

  14. 13
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, you are now wildly off topic (especially the first two paragraphs of your three-paragraph post) — and, because the topic you are on is one that is likely to be incendiary, you’re creating a huge danger of derailing the thread.

    Do not comment on this thread again, at all, unless your comment is strictly on-topic. This includes not responding to this post of mine on this thread. Thank you.

  15. 14
    Christine says:

    may the Lord be with her and hold her.

  16. 15
    Donna Barnett says:

    When I saw the video, i thought about the waste of human potential in the passing of this beautiful girl. I hope that the current government realizes that their regime is slipping through their fingers. When a goverment has to stoop so low as to clearly shed innocent life their relevancy is gone and they will go the way of all other ruthless dictators. My prayers are for this young woman’s family and for all of those whose lives will be cut short buy these maniacal men.
    As a Christian I believe she will take up the fight for her countries freedom from heaven, cheering on all those who are so desperately clawing for freedom.
    RIP Neda

  17. 16
    Babak says:

    با عرض تسلیت به تمام ایرانیان میهن پرست. ندا یکی از قهرمانان تاریخ این مرز و بومه .
    فقط می خوام اینو بدونم این حیون بسیجی چطور شبها خوابش میبره؟
    مرگ بر خامنه ای—-مرگ بر دیکتاتور—–مرگ بر بسیجی های خود فروش

  18. I will see if I can find someone to translate that Babak’s comment.

  19. 18
    alex says:

    Babak’s post translates into: Condolences to my fellow pariotic people of Iran. Neda another one of heroes of our land. I only wish to say of that Bassiji animal (who killed Neda), how can he sleep at night? Death to Khamenai, Death to Dictators and Death to all treacherous bassijis!

  20. 19
    alex says:

    The fact that an Islamic regime who claims it stands for world peace and justice, commits such heinous acts against its own peaceful demonstrators, speaks volumes. It proves that the ruling clergy and their cohorts are nothing but a bunch of criminally minded opportunistic hoodlums who stop at nothing to hold on to power.

  21. 20
    world citizen says:

    People of the world heard your heavenly message of freedom, dear Neda. The International Criminal Court must issue arrest warrants for the murderous dicatators in Iran, Khamenei, Ahmadi-Nejad and their criminal cohorts.
    Neda belongs to the world. The world seeks justice !!

  22. 21
    VJ says:

    In the matter of the Iranian government’s “moral authority,” or lack thereof, and their use of it to suppress and kill people like Neda, Iran’s status as a Shi’a country is crucial.

    This is especially so for two reasons. First, because the Shi’ite branch of Islam has its roots in the martyrdom of Ali, who carried on Mohammed’s bloodline, and the martyrdom of Ali’s sons, Hussein and Hasan. Second, because Shi’ism called into question any Islamic leadership except that of Ali’s (and thus Mohammed’s) bloodline. Since Ali’s line was eventually left without an heir (though exactly when, or even whether, his line died out is itself a subject of further schisms), you can imagine that when the Islamic Republic of Iran was founded as a theocracy, it was founded with a built-in rebuke to its own authority: that is, it asserted Shi’a Islam as its basis for authority, but without an heir of Ali leading it, it could never legitimately claim such authority. Finally, to bring this problem full circle, we have Neda, who was martyred by a regime that claimed religious and political authority, but which had no such authority to govern according to the Shi’a branch of the faith. I would bet anything that this irony is not lost on the Iranian people, and I bet that I, an outsider, will not be the only person to draw a parallel between Neda’s martyrdom and those of Ali and his sons. I make no claim for or against Shi’a or Sunni legitimacy, I’m just saying that I bet that Neda’s tragic killing will be certain to inflame these faultlines that were there from the very founding of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

    But although I won’t jump in to the controversy between Shi’a and Sunni Islam, I can say one thing for sure: Neda’s killing is a horror, and I think it is an act of pure evil. I am mindful of the need not to exaggerate her good attributes, but I also bet that we’ll find that we lost a fine, decent and kind person in Neda. I’ve met many Iranians in my day, and I know what to expect from them. Rest in peace, Neda; I bless your spirit. You live still.

  23. Neda now has her own Wikipedia page, which claims that some of the information initially put out about her was wrong. Make of it what you will.

  24. 23
    American Woman says:

    We Love you Neda, and all those before and after you from all over the world. We Love you precious Neda and all the rest of you who have fallen at the hands of evil doers.

  25. 24
    Tom Skowronski @ Videomaker says:

    This is a very hard video to watch, and a very hard reality to face. Lena didn’t need to die. What is happening there is a true blackmark in this world’s history. Thanks to the power of video, it will be with us forever… do not forget this power. We all have the ability to become the media, the truth & the voice

  26. 25
    Ampersand says:

    A post commenting on the video, on Broadsheet.

  27. It’s a good piece. Thanks for linking, Amp.

  28. 27
    Yen says:

    Your life was not in vain
    A light was turned on from your darkness
    The horror is now shared by life
    As life goes on, we give you our love
    As you watch and guide us from above