One Young Woman Dies In Tehran

neda hijabSusan notes: Three years ago, on June 20, 2009, Neda Agha Soltan died in revolutionary Tehran. The following day, I watched in horror as her dying moments were replayed for the world to see, and I became a supporter of the Green Movement for change in Iran.

Today, Neda will be mourned by hundreds of thousands worldwide, and we will hear the echo of her silent death in the street in Tehran.

Neda, we will never forget you, your voice echos through the world in our call for freedom and peace. Click here to see a one-hour Guardian documentary on Neda, her family and Iran.

Q: If an innocent young woman gets shot in a street in Tehran, does she make a sound as she dies?

A: Yes, and the whole world hears her.

Anonymous Iranian blogger, June 21, 2009, on Twitter

I abhor violence.

So much so that I don’t go to movies that feature blood, guts and/or guns.  And I’d never seen anyone die. For real, I mean. Until yesterday.

Yesterday I watched a young girl die in a Tehran street, her last breaths captured on video by a passerby.

She lay still and quiet in her final moments. Shot. Perhaps it was on purpose, perhaps she got in the way of a stray bullet. Some reports say she was with her father when she was hit. Others say she was with her music teacher. Apparently, she loved to sing. How ironic.

A Life Snatched Away

Some stories say she was only 16, others say 26, or 27. Her age really doesn’t matter. Her youth does. And the way in which her life was taken matters even more.

neda_hijab.jpgPeople gathered around her – maybe her brothers, her father, friends, her music teacher…? Or maybe they were just random protesters or passersby. World-famous author Paulo Coelho says one of them was a doctor friend of his. They were trying to save her.

When deep red blood began bubbling – and then streaming – from between her lips, it must have become obvious to them that there was no hope.

That’s when they started to shout.

I have no idea what they said; I don’t understand Farsi. But the pain and anguish in their voices was clear.

I don’t think she herself made a sound, at least not one that is audible on the video I watched. Although there was screaming, and mayhem all around her, she appeared to be silent. And still.

Quiet Amidst Chaos

It felt surreal to sit at my computer and watch this young woman die. Maybe that’s why I didn’t cry. I was in some kind of shock. It just seemed so unbelievable to watch her go. So swiftly. So senselessly.

She was quiet, without struggle, at least in her final moments, even as chaos erupted around her.

Of course she had a name. She was someone’s daughter. They’re calling her Neda on Twitter and in the mainstream media. I’ve been told that Neda means “voice” or “calling” in Farsi. I don’t know if that’s the name she was given lovingly at birth, or with which she was symbolically christened at death.

If it was the former, it would seem that Neda has fulfilled her destiny: in death she has become the calling for which she was named. The sound of her silent voice will now travel to the farthest corners of the globe.

The image of her blood-covered face, that of a fallen angel, will be embedded in the minds of thousands, maybe even millions, who will bear witness to her oh-so-public passing when they watch it on the Internet.

I wonder how she felt about freedom, this one young woman who died in a Tehran street? Whatever her views were, it’s unlikely that she would have known when she awoke yesterday that her destiny was to become immortal in the name of it.

Forever Free Now

One young woman went into the street in Tehran on a June morning, maybe to go to the shop, or to her music lesson; maybe to fight for her country, her beliefs, and her values.

If she was demonstrating for freedom, in a twisted way, she got what she wanted, but surely not in the way she might have imagined.

Whatever her intention, she’s become a martyr of sorts, an unexpected icon, a symbol for all that needs changing in a world from which she is now forever free.

Her struggle is over. The rest of us continue on.

Just as Neda died a violent death yesterday, so did scores of others in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere around the world. Many of them innocent women and children, their lives cut short needlessly, many of them murdered in the name of God.

I wonder if that God is the same God that abhors violence as much as I do?

Susan notes: the BBC video below (dated June 25, 2009, four days after the blog post above) speaks for itself. This man happened to be passing by when a young woman was shot in the street in Tehran. He also happened to be a friend of world-famous author (and one of my favourite writers) Paulo Coelho, who by chance saw the video of Neda’s death and recognised his friend. Now the doctor tells the story of her last moments, even though in the telling, he puts his own life in jeopardy.

Everything happens for a reason. Thank you for speaking out. In solidarity with all Iranians and victims of violence everywhere.Never give up hope for freedom and peace. We are all connected.



Related links:
More Music In Support Of Iran: U2 Goes Green In Barcelona
Joan Baez Sings We Shall Overcome For People Of Iran
United For Neda (Divided We Fall) Amazing Tune, Powerful Message, Disturbing Images
We Stand By You In Solidarity (Bon Jovi & Co)
Leyla Cries By Day, And Shouts From The Rooftops By Night
United For Neda (Divided We Fall) Amazing Tune, Powerful Message, Disturbing Images
The Amazingly Transformative Miracle of Music: WOW !!

Doctor Shares Neda’s Last moments (this is an amazing testimonial, must watch)
A Young Girl Is Shot Dead
Neda Loved Music, Not Politics (this is a lovely interview with a friend of hers and of her fiance)
Iranian “Lionesses” In The Streets of Iran