There is a new face to the Iranian crisis — a 27-year-old philosophy student captured on video being shot to death in Tehran while a man crouches beside her and tells her not to be afraid.
Neda Agha Soltan —whose first name means “voice” in Farsi — died on Saturday after being shot in the chest during a protest march.
Since then, graphic footage of the incident has been broadcast on TV and online, and Neda has come to symbolize the fight for equality and democracy in Iran.
S.F. (who didn’t want her name used for safety reasons), 28, a University of B.C. student who grew up in Iran, said when she first watched the video she couldn’t stop crying.
“All the people believe she is the symbol of this movement,” S.F. said. “On Facebook, lots of us changed our profile to Neda’s picture.”
S.F. said the state-run media isn’t reporting on Neda’s death, but some people have access to foreign news broadcasts.
Maryam Moghaddas, who lived in Iran for 22 years before moving to Vancouver, said the video has hit the Iranian community hard.
“It was awful,” she said, breaking down in tears.
Moghaddas said if nothing else, Neda’s video has caught the world’s attention, adding she was likely to be on the minds of some of the thousands of people who attended a rally outside the Vancouver Art Gallery last night.
Silent Scream, which started on June 15, takes place every night until Thursday, in support of those who have been killed in protests in Iran.
Moghaddas said attendance has grown from a few hundred people to roughly 2,000.
She said it’s important to let Iranians know they are being supported around the world, and to bring awareness here.
“We are a community,” Moghaddas said.
- Neda Agha Soltan, 27, was an Iranian philosophy student who was shot to death on Saturday during a rally in Tehran to protest the results of the recent national election. Amateur video of the incident — which has been posted online and broadcast on TV — shows Neda taking a bullet to the chest and falling back. Two men — one of whom is rumoured to be her father or professor — rush to her side and cover the wound with their hands while blood pours from her nose and mouth. As onlookers scream, Neda’s eyes turn blankly to the side while one of the men repeats, “Neda, don’t be afraid. Neda, stay with me.” Because state-run media is not reporting on Neda’s death, there are conflicting and unconfirmed reports as to who shot her, but some speculate it was a Basij militiaman passing by on a motorcycle. According to non-Iranian media, the government forbade Neda’s family from holding a funeral in a mosque, and all mosques were forbidden from holding memorial services for her. “Police were spraying paint on the cars of those who insisted on driving toward the mosque,” one witness told Reuters.
METRO NEWS SERVICES