Neda: Iran’s symbol of protest

As we continue our apathy in the face of the destruction of our democracy by Gloria Arroyo, Iran sizzles to regain their democracy.

Amateur video turns woman into icon of Iran’s unrest

She lies in the Tehran street with her headscarf half-off, blood pooling around her jeans and white sneakers.

“Don’t be afraid, Neda dear, don’t be afraid,” a white-haired man says desperately in Persian. Another man presses on her chest, trying to keep her alive.

Scarlet blood gushes from her nose and mouth and courses across her pale face. Men and women scream in horror as they realize she is dead or dying.

nedaThe death of the woman identified as Neda Agha Soltan was captured on amateur videos and spread around the world in less than 48 hours on YouTube, Facebook, blogs and Twitter, searing the image into millions of minds. It turned the woman described as a 27-year-old music student into an instant icon of the clash between Iran’s cleric-led government and the self-described “green wave” movement that claims hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole his June 12 re-election through fraud.

The seconds-long videos also thwarted government attempts to suppress details surrounding election protests. Rules imposed last week barred independent media from street reporting and turned the people of Iran into an essential source of information on the unrest, documenting it with camera phones and e-mailing the images out to the world.

At least two recordings of Soltan’s death, shot from different angles by what appear to be camera phones, began appearing widely online Saturday, the day thousands of protesters defied an order from Iran’s supreme leader and marched to demand a new election. Waiting police and pro-government militia launched baton charges, tear gas and water cannons.

One of the amateur videos of Soltan is 40 seconds long, the other only 14. The person who posted the longer one says it was taken on Workers’ Avenue in central Tehran.

‘Freedom for all’

The woman’s fiance, Caspain Makan, said she was not a firm backer of either main opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi or Ahmadinejad. She simply “wanted freedom for all,” he told BBC Persia in an interview.

“When the clashes were occurring, Neda was far away from the demonstrations, she was in one of the side alleys near Amir Abad,” Makan said, according to a translation of the interview. “Thirsty and tired or being cooped up for about an hour in the car in heavy traffic with her music instructor, she finally gets out of the car and, based on the pictures sent in by the people, armed forces in civilian clothes and the Basiji (Iranian militia) targeted and shot her in the heart.”

He said Neda died in her instructor’s arms before she could be taken to a hospital.

Makan added that Basijis and mosque officials refused a request for a public memorial service.

“They knew that Neda … died innocently, and people in Iran and the international community are informed of that fact. So they decided to avoid a situation where a mass rally would take place,” he said, according to the BBC interview.

Power of social media

Protesters outside Iran have made posters of Soltan’s bloodied face. Poems, tributes and angry denunciations of Iran’s government have multiplied online. In some, she is compared to the lone man standing with shopping bags in his hands in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square.

Videos of Soltan’s death have been circulating inside Iran despite official blocking of Web sites including Facebook and jamming of satellite television signals. People have used anti-filtering software to circumvent the controls. Some Iranians have uploaded the footage to their cell phones and used Bluetooth technology to share it.

The bloody imagery could have an important impact on public opinion inside Iran, where the idea of martyrdom resonates deeply among a populace steeped in the stories and imagery of Shiite Islam, a faith founded on the idea of self-sacrifice in the cause of justice.

The deaths of protesters during the 1979 Islamic Revolution fueled a 40-day cycle of mourning marches, and shootings of mourners, that contributed to the overthrow of the U.S.-backed dictator, Shah Reza Pahlavi.

In memory of ‘martyrs’

Police officials said Saturday that they had ordered officers to restrain their use of force, promising deadlier measures only if protesters returned to the streets. The government media still reported seven deaths of protesters they accused of instigating violence and rioting. It was not clear if Soltan was counted among them.

Acquaintances said she had been shot by a plainclothes member of the pro-government Basij militia, a fiercely loyal cadre that answers to the elite Revolutionary Guard and ultimately to the supreme leader. The Basij have been heavily deployed against supporters of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi and blamed by protesters for much of the worst violence against them.

Persian-language postings on blogs and Twitter feeds used by supporters of the opposition called for a rally Monday at Haft-e-tir Square Tehran in memory of Neda and other “martyrs.” About 200 gathered there and were quickly dispersed by riot police firing tear gas and live ammunition, quashing the demonstration and barring any further gathering of people, even in pairs, at the normally busy intersection.

June 23, 2009 9:30 am  Tags: ,   Posted in: Foreign Affairs

43 Responses

  1. grizzy - June 23, 2009 10:41 am


    Over in the Philippines, over a thousand Nedas have alreadt sacrificed their lives to make life worth living there, pero wa epek pa rin. Sad bad true!

    In fact, I remember picture of a young Filipino lad in beach sandals gunned down by a policeman/military officer posted in Malaya during the mass rally for Erap in May 2001. Nobody even bothered to make noise about it. Parang ordinary lang.

  2. ginoray - June 23, 2009 10:49 am

    oo nga. kung nakukuhanan lang sana lahat ng media yung mga pananakit ng mga bataan ni gloria sa mga rallyistang lumalaban sa kabulukan niya e baka sakaling magising na ang mga walang pakialam.

    o malamang nga rin na hindi, dahil ayaw natin ng gulo. lintek!

  3. The EQualizer - June 23, 2009 11:34 am

    “Martin Luther King once said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’ ” Mr. Obama said in a statement released after security forces in the Iranian capital clashed repeatedly with protesters. “I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian people’s belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.” Barack Obama

  4. bitchevil - June 23, 2009 11:47 am

    One victim could be made into a big news by media by continuously showing it. What about that Tianan Men massacre in Beijing wherein hundreds of students killed? What about the recent riots in Thailand? What about the Edsa 3 May Ist riots?

  5. parasabayan - June 23, 2009 12:01 pm

    If the bitch insists on her charter change and continue to rule beyond 2010, expect thousands of Nedas who will brave the streets. This may just be my dream but I hope it happens.

  6. bitchevil - June 23, 2009 12:02 pm

    And yes, what about the Mendiola Massacre which until now no one has been charged?

  7. TonGuE-tWisTeD - June 23, 2009 2:18 pm

    This video may be compared to a movie trailer of the blockbuster release coming from Palace by the River Productions. The premier will be held sometime in May of 2010. For complete details of the movie’s plot, read Lito Banayo’s latest Malaya column “Never Can Say Goodbye”.

    It’s so frightening it will make you want to puke.

  8. hKofw - June 23, 2009 4:00 pm

    Ang Presidente ng Iran, si Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ay isa ring psychopath o sociopath (a person with antisocial personality disorder). Pareho sila ng utak ni gloria. Handang pumatay at gumawa ng masama ng walang pakundangan at pagsisisi. Walang kunsyensiya dahil hindi nila nararamdaman ito. Kapag umupo sa pagiging lider ang may sakit nito, tiyak magdudusa ang bansa, malaki man o maliit. Ang mga kilalang mayroon nito ay nga naging diktador katulad ni Hitler, Mugabe, Kim Jong-il, at sa atin ang mga Pidals. At dahil nga nasa kapangyarihan sila gagamitin nila ito sa kanilang pansarili at maitim na hangarin. Ang masama nito, there is NO known cure for this disorder!

  9. AdeBrux - June 23, 2009 6:59 pm

    “And yes, what about the Mendiola Massacre which until now no one has been charged?” – BE

    Is there a YouTube video of the Mendiola Massacre? This massacre perpetuated under Pandak’s order should be revisited regularly.

  10. Jen - June 23, 2009 7:07 pm

    Keep it simple and final–put a bullet between Gloria Arroyo’s eyes–that’s called self-defense, defending the lives of millions of Filipinos against this woman vulture with insatiable greed. I am so tired of ruthless dictators keeping the Philippines captive. She deserves several death sentences for all her many crimes–just put a bullet between her eyes. BOOM BOOM POW!

  11. chi - June 23, 2009 8:05 pm

    I remember, when Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to the US to attend a UN function, it was only the former First Lady Laura Bush who snubbed him, dinaan-daanan lang sa table at ni hindi sinulyapan kahit minsan while the Iran president was waiting for even a Hi from her! In several interviews, Laura was open with her hatred for this guy. Yeah, that’s the first lady I most admired!

  12. chi - June 23, 2009 8:08 pm

    Gloria Arroyo, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Robert Mugabe are alike, all psychopaths on the loose!

  13. vic - June 23, 2009 8:53 pm

    The Iranians had already proven that they are capable of getting rid of tyrants as they did with the Shah and they can do it again in their own time and in their choosing…they have that patience and aim for success…

  14. bitchevil - June 23, 2009 9:15 pm

    The Mendiola Massacre happened during Cory’s term.

    If Iran President is psychopath, what about Bush?

  15. AdeBrux - June 23, 2009 9:23 pm


    Ah yes, forgot THAT Mendiola Massacre under Cory. Thanks for correcting.

    I was thinking of the other “Mendiola Massacre” after Erap was ousted…

  16. bitchevil - June 23, 2009 9:33 pm

    After Erap was ousted was the so called Edsa 3…the May 1st riot wherein four were killed.

    Did you guys hear that Comelec is allowing the inmates to vote this coming election? How could these be inmates be given this right when their civil and political rights are suspended. I smell something. Malacanang is now trying to include the inmates’ votes. The inmates’ votes could easily be altered by the jail guards on order of the Palace.

  17. vic - June 23, 2009 9:55 pm

    BE- maybe the COMELEC had heard of the Canada SC rulings on the rights of the Inmates (prisoners)to vote…here in the Archives of History it will relate how the Privilege of the Few became the Right of every Citizen over the age of 18…

  18. chi - June 23, 2009 10:18 pm

    If Iran President is psychopath, what about Bush?- bitchevil

    Itanong mo kay Cocoy at Dandaw. Tutal palagi mo namang sinisimulang gerahin si Dandaw ng wala sa lugar.

  19. Cocoy - June 23, 2009 11:45 pm

    We Filipinos learned from Iranians,The people of Iran overthrew a cruel despot(The Shah)who turned Iran into a very progressive country and ended up installing a crackpot clergyman who’s steadily turning Iran back to the 12th Century.

    The Filipino people overthrew Marcos who disciplined the Filipinos with bicycle and ended-up installing, WHO?

    Iranians learned from Filipinos, it is time the Philippines realized that the Iranian playbook is a mirror of the Pidalism system, where Presidential elections show how to steal elections as a model for the rest of the world. Don’t Investigate, just Believe! It’s the Pinoy Way.

  20. Cocoy - June 23, 2009 11:48 pm

    Does anyone else find it ironic that Iranians care more about democracy than we do? Seriously,Gloria Arroyo was “elected” under suspicious circumstances, but most we can muster is a couple of low scale protests and a couple of documentaries and articles that spelled out how the fraud occurred.

    I’m sympathetic of what’s going on in Iran and hoping for a peaceful outcome of this situation. However, Filipinos really don’t have any credibility when it comes to commenting of what should be done in this case of an obviously thrown election.

  21. mami_noodles - June 23, 2009 11:56 pm

    The effect of Neda to the Iranians could be compared to the effect of Ninoy Aquino’s assassination to the Filipinos.

    Question is, when would we follow? Shall we wait for a Neda in our midst?

  22. ipaglaban_mo - June 24, 2009 12:13 am

    Sad but true. Habang duwag ang mga pilipino, madamot pa magbigay ng serbisyo para sa bayan at nagpapakatanga na lang. I doubt magkakaroon tayo ng parang protests sa iran. i hope i’m wrong sana…

    pero tuloy pa rin ang pakikipaglaban siyempre…

  23. grizzy - June 24, 2009 12:52 am

    BE: Did you guys hear that Comelec is allowing the inmates to vote this coming election?

    What? Totoo ba iyan? Aba, gago nga! No wonder wala nang distinction between a law-abiding citizen and a criminal sa Pilipinas.

    Baka labas niya, magkaroon pa ng partylist ang mga kriminal na nasentensiyahan na at magkaroon ng representative sa Tongreso ni Gloria Dorobo! Iba na talaga ang takbo ng utak ng mga unggoy ano?

  24. grizzy - June 24, 2009 1:01 am

    Si Neda, ordinaryong mamayan na ipinaglalaban ang kaniyang karapatan.

    Si Ninoy celebrity na built up ng mga kano at binansagang arch-rival ni Marcos. Cannot compare sa totoo lang. Ang dapat na bigyan ng importansiya ay iyong mga mahihirap na aktibista na sina-salvage ng mga sundalo ni Gloria Dorobo.

  25. Ellen - June 24, 2009 1:12 am

    Here we go again.Reminding everybody that this blog is for discussion of issues not for bickering and personal insults, which are unpleasant.

    I will delete petty, quarrelsome comments.

  26. grizzy - June 24, 2009 1:22 am

    Gusto ko iyong katwiran ng disciplinarian na ama ko, “One forfeits (loses) his rights under the law he breaks!” Kaya nga kinukulong ang mga kriminal sa totoo lang!

  27. grizzy - June 24, 2009 1:36 am

    Totoo iyong sinabi ni ginoray tungkol sa mga binabatuta ng mga pulis sa Pilipinas tuwing may demonstration doon. Kaya nga iyong isang aktibista na nakasama sa rally namin sa Tokyo, inggit na inggit sa peaceful demonstration namin na maayos.

    Nakikita ko iyan sa mga video tapes na tina-translate ko sa wikang hapon at ini-edit para ipalabas sa flash news sa TV namin dito. Abusadong mga pulis sa totoo lang!

    Dito maingat kasi mabilis pa sa alas kuwatro ang bar association namin na magsasampa ng reklamo sa korte kapag umabuso ang mga pulis. Di sila basta-basta puedeng mapukpok ng mga rallyist, o magbunot ng baril. Mawawalan sila ng tsapa sa totoo lang.

    Utak kamote kasi gaya noong gustong manggulo sa rally namin noong biyernes laban kay Gloria Dorobo at doon sa mga kasama niyang mga Con-Ass na spy na nagpakilalang security siya na kasama sa entourage ni Gloria Dorobo. Di na nahiya ang unggoy na ina-agitate pa iyong mga kasama ko. Palibahasa walang alam sa tamang pagpupulis.

    Di siya gumaya doon sa mga pulis na hapon na nagbabantay lang at tinitiyak na hindi kami guguluhin at di rin kami manggugulo at makakaperhuwisyo sa peace and order ng pinagra-rally-han namin dahil alam nilang may karapatan kami. ‘Ika nga, “freedom of speech and assembly!” Iyan ang democracy!

  28. atila - June 24, 2009 1:58 am

    SO many tears………….. R.I.P. neda
    sacuvati od zaborava!
    Pancevo SERBIA

  29. bitchevil - June 24, 2009 2:23 am

    Vic, there’s no doubt the Iranians can get rid of their leader…but with some help from the West.

  30. Kim - June 24, 2009 2:55 am

    bitchevil – June 23, 2009 9:33 pm

    “Did you guys hear that Comelec is allowing the inmates to vote this coming election? How could these be inmates be given this right when their civil and political rights are suspended. I smell something. Malacanang is now trying to include the inmates’ votes”


    On the sarcastic side of this looming possibility, think of it this way folks, if the DEAD are made to vote every election time (in spite of the fact that they do not have the RiGHT to live anymore), what more of the inmates ? Besides, from one “would-be” inmate to another, perhaps it is a gesture on Malacanang’s part as a neighborly “HELLO” when they finally flock together as one big happy family Muntinglupa. Aba, tamang-tama pala na makulong si gloria doon. The name of the place alone beckons to her physical stature……………..MUNTI (meaning MALIIT).

  31. TonGuE-tWisTeD - June 24, 2009 7:45 am

    There is a difference between convicts and detainees. Detainees are those whose cases are still being heard in the courts (if at all) and have not lost most of their rights, including the right to vote.

    Convicts are banned from voting. Therefore, there should be no voting in Muntinlupa since all the inmates there are convicted criminals.

  32. vic - June 24, 2009 8:52 am

    BE- or from some help from their Spiritual Leader…The Shah was the West Puppet and the U.S. did everything to let him stay and for decades was able to, but eventually had to give up on him when it was futile to go against the whole Nation…at the moment their so called Spiritual Leader is not in concert with His people as of yet, He is a Politician.

  33. grizzy - June 24, 2009 9:09 am

    There is a difference between convicts and detainees. Detainees are those whose cases are still being heard in the courts (if at all) and have not lost most of their rights, including the right to vote.

    Of course, there is a difference between a convict and a detainee and even with an accused. Kaya nga may iba’t ibang term to distinguish one from another. Sa Pilipinas lang medyo malabo kasi pa-ingles-ingles pa di naman pala naiintindihan ng husto. Kaya iyong bobong implementor ng batas, di malaman kung ano ang tama at mali! :-(

    Di sana sila malilito kung tama ang registration system nila. Tangnanay nila, iba-iba ang palakad kaya tuloy iyong mga nalito naman, saan iagos doon na lang.

    In fact, ang dami kong nami-meet na mga pilipino sa Japan, ang daming ID, iba-iba ang pangalan. Isang pilipina nga dito nakulong for fraud and insurance scam, apat ang birth certificates at tatlong death certificates.

    Kaya iyong mga inuutusan ni Gloria Dorobo na mandaya, madaling maka-produce ng voters na walang katawan!!!

  34. Valdemar - June 24, 2009 5:06 pm

    The protests around us are prototypes of what we can use. Yet so far, complacency perhaps get the better of the opposition or we just love the status quo. It seems no one really wants to start the ball rolling.

  35. bitchevil - June 25, 2009 2:17 am

    If the Comelec really wants to allow the inmates to vote, then the detained Magdalo soldiers are more than qualified.

  36. Tilamsik - June 25, 2009 7:13 am

    ….In the election dispute now gripping the streets of Tehran, Iran is experiencing a revival of the internal rivalries born in the judgments made in 1980 and later that decade about how and whether to deal with the Little Satan (Israel) and the Great Satan (the United States)….

    more on

  37. Liwayway-Gawgaw - June 25, 2009 2:46 pm

    Paanong naging bayani itong si Neda?

    Naipit lamang sa trapik dulot ng protesta ang kanilang kotse. Nainip sa loob, nauhaw. Lumabas at inakala ng security forces na kasama sa demonstrasyon, binaril. Ibig sabihin, conicidental lamang ang presence niya doon.

    Maaari pang sabihing isang inosenteng naging biktima ng pangyayaring may kinalaman sa kaguluhan bunga ng katulad sa Pilipinas na pagmamalabis at pagkagahaman sa kapangyarihan.

  38. norpil - June 26, 2009 9:57 pm

    Neda, according to the iranian ambassador in mexico was killed by the american cia. according to the doctor who tried to revive her on the street where she fell, Neda was shouting “down with dictatorship”. this doctor was afraid he might be jailed so he took at once the plane home to london. She may not be a hero but she became a symbol whether willing or unwilling for those who are protesting the result of the election.

  39. bitchevil - June 27, 2009 2:47 am

    See what I mean? The US is always there when there’s conflict. CIA is known for her covert activities. CIA is ready to kill innocent civilians to ignite violence against the government the US doesn’t want. This brings now to the possibility that CIA could have a role in Ninoy’s assassination. For one thing, how was Ninoy able to get a passport in US to fly to Hongkong using the an alyas (Marcial Bonifacio). For such a well known personality wanted in the Philippines, it was unlikely the US authorities failed to check and monitor him.

  40. parasabayan - June 27, 2009 10:56 am

    According to the Iranian’s in power, the demonstrators killed Neda to purposely create chaos. What a twisted mind!

  41. bitchevil - June 28, 2009 10:58 am

    It’s always happening everywhere in the world. That’s why we don’t know who the real enemies are. It’s all being played by media which is connected to the intelligence agencies.

  42. buchi - July 25, 2009 1:23 pm

    what a useless loss of valuable life

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