IRAN

Neda, a coveted icon

Neda’s blood-stained face and frozen stare has come to symbolise the violent clashes between protestors and police or militia forces in Iran. She has become the icon of democracy advocates opposed to the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the authorities are trying hard to break her aura.

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Image posted on the site "We Are All Neda".

Neda’s blood-stained face and frozen stare has come to symbolise the violent clashes between protestors and police or militia forces in Iran. She has become the icon of democracy advocates opposed to the re-election of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But the authorities are trying hard to break her aura.

Neda, 27, was a philosophy student in Tehran. She was shot in the chest and killed during last Saturday’s protests in the city. Footage of her death was captured on a cellphone camera and were reportedly posted online on Facebook by Hamed R, an Iranian blogger living in the Netherlands.

The circumstances of Neda’s death have been at the centre of a heated debate on the Iranian web. According to her fiancé, Caspian Makan, who spoke on the Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera, Neda was not even protesting that day. She was stuck in traffic with her music instructor due to the protests, and got out of the car to observe the protests when she was shot (see video below). Makan cites eyewitnesses as saying that Neda was deliberately targeted by Basiji militiamen, who theoretically do not have the right to bear arms. According to Makan, Neda was neither pro-Mousavi nor pro-Ahmadinejad, although she did take part in several pro-democracy rallies.

Several other far-fetched versions have circulated on official Iranian media. The Guardian quoted Iranian newspaper Jomhouri Islami as reporting that Neda was shot by a sniper from the People’s Moudjahiddin group, to reinforce anti-government propaganda.

The pro-Ahmadinejad newspaper Javan claimed that expelled BBC correspondent Jon Leyne orchestrated the shooting to enrich his coverage of the protests…

Authorities have not yet opened an official investigation into Neda’s death. She was reportedly buried on Sunday in the outskirts of Tehran, the authorities having apparently refused a public funeral or memorial for her in the capital.

A discreet homage to Neda on the street corner she died on

Posted here

Neda, filmed several minutes before her death

Neda is dressed in black and is next to the man in the blue striped shirt 

Saturday June 20, at 7:05pm, Neda dies from a bullet wound to her chest

Neda, an icon for protestors and web users

Posted on Flickr by Steve Rhodes.

One of the Facebook pages dedicated to Neda.

Posted on Flickr by Milad3010.

“By giving this incident so much coverage, the press and media are obstructing the truth”

Mohammad, 24, is an engineering graduate. He supports Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Neda Agha Soltan’s death has not yet been elucidated by an official investigation. I think that, by giving the incident so much coverage, the press and media are getting in the way of the truth. You’re sparking a media war between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the West, and hindering diplomatic relations.

My understanding is that several innocent people have been killed during protests, both by protestors and by police forces. Ten days ago, a little girl and her mother were killed on the way to the nursery by shots fired by protestors, but nobody covered that at the time.

The only thing we’re sure of is that Neda Agha Soltan was shot. We don’t really know who fired. Security forces claim they were not posted near where Neda was killed and say the shot could not have come from police or military forces. They also claim they were instructed not to shoot during the protests. Protestors claim that Neda was shot by a member of the police or militias. But that’s just a theory. A theory doesn’t mean it’s the truth. "

"The government denies it has blood on its hands, but no-one believes them"

"Rose" is a young Iranian woman who studies abroad. She was in Teheran until last Friday.

"Neda is the symbol of our fight. I'm not surprised the government is saying that she was killed by opposition protesters. They always say that, to pretend they have no blood on their hands. But no-one here believes them"