Skip to comments.Iranís Neda: 5 Years Later
Posted on 06/24/2014 8:47:51 PM PDT by freedom44
Iran's pro-democracy movement, the Green Movement, was born in the tumultuous aftermath of presidential elections held on June 12, 2009. Although the results unambiguously declared incumbent candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the landslide victor, the majority of Iranians including Ahmadinejad's opponents in the election, Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi found this outcome outrageously fraudulent, and took to the streets in protest. Some Iranian demonstrators were demanding reform while the majority were demanding a referendum to replace the regime with a democratic and perhaps secular one. Their umbrage became so widespread and well-known that they were soon identified as a serious political force, taking a name inspired by Moussavi's preferred color during his campaign. It is important to note that while the people executing the protests were understandably angry, their efforts were overwhelmingly marked by peaceful demonstrations, attended by those who cherished freedom and understood that violence as a tool for political change is ultimately self-defeating. There will, of course, always be savages in any movement who demand to have bloodshed at any cost, and the Green Movement was no exception, but these unfortunate individuals have been in a severe minority. It has been a tragic anomaly when demonstrators for this cause have raised arms against any of their fellow man, even those on the opposite side. Which is not to say that that same opposition has held to such a principle. Today we discuss the consequences of this contempt for peaceful discourse.
Neda Agha-Soltan was not an especially politically fervent person. Her true love in life, besides her fiance Caspian Makan, was music, and she also held an interest in studying philosophy. Something of a maverick by the standards of her society, Agha-Soltan frequently found herself at odds with her peers. Her preferred mode of dress was decidedly progressive, and she would often (though not always) forego wearing the traditional hijab expected by the Iranian regime. The social ridicule she frequently endured as a result of her non-conformist personality caused her to leave school (to avoid the judgment of her fellow students), and importantly, to divorce her first husband, the stigma of which led her to difficulties in finding work. In the campaign period of the 2009 presidential elections, she was uninterested and disconnected. But even she reacted angrily when Ahmadinejad's victory was announced.
It was June 20, 2009, just over a week after the election when protests were hot and in full swing, that Neda quite unsuspectingly died for the Green Movement. Upset over the election results and wishing to lend her support to demonstrators against it, she and her like-minded music teacher Hamid Panahi were on their way to an anti-government protest. Because it was hot that day and the air conditioning in Neda's car was malfunctioning, they had stopped nearby but still en route and stepped outside to cool off. That was when the bullet ripped through the air, and Neda Agha-Soltan was shot in the chest. The sparse crowd in the area flew into a panic as Neda collapsed in a pool of blood while Panahi and a witnessing doctor, Arash Hejazi, rushed to her aid. Hejazi immediately pressed his hands to her wound in a vain effort to stop the bleeding, but it was too late. Due to some of the people present, dramatic and disturbing video exists of Neda lying on the street, blood pouring from her chest, nose and mouth, a vacant stare in eyes slowly dimming of life. She died on her way to the hospital.
Neda's killer was identified as a member of the Sazmane Basij-e Mostaz'afin, or simply the Basij, a paramilitary islamic group implemented by the late Ayatollah Khomeini. Why this person felt the need to harm her is impossible to determine, as Neda was not a violent person. Panahi spoke of her as being angry with the announced results of the election, certainly, but her intention, like that of so many others, was peaceful demonstration to be accomplished without harming anyone. It is perhaps because she so exemplified the Green Movement in her short participation therein that Neda Agha-Soltan has become known as a martyr for it after he death. It's said that when her family, concerned over her intention to attend the protest, warned her against it, her exact response was: Even if I get shot in the heart, it doesn't matter. Everyone has their purpose.
Neda's death, and the peaceful people's struggle it obviates, casts a light of shame upon the utter failure of American president Barack Obama to support the people of Iran. Obama claims to love freedom and self-governance, yet his strategy has consistently been one of dealing directly with the Iranian government rather than helping the real people who suffer in the hopes of attaining those ideals. There is much that Obama could do to help bring about actual change. The people of Iran are in need of assistance with technological advancements, especially in communications and organization, which could help strengthen the movement even further. The Internet and its widespread adoption in Iran has already brought about widespread improvements in the execution of the Green Movement, pacifying what was already a nonviolent force even further and enhancing its image worldwide. Focusing on this obvious means of providing assistance would be of tremendous aid, yet Obama will hear none of it. Instead, the talk is of economic sanctions and even the possibility of military force brought to bear against Iran. These are miserable and potentially catastrophic ideas. History has striven to teach us again and again that when a government particularly a tyrannical regime - is punished, it is invariably the people under that government who suffer. Bombings and the institution of sanctions on Iran would only visit dreadful horrors upon the very people with whose plight the Americans claim to sympathize.
Neda Agha-Soltan's family remembers her as a cheerful, optimistic person who would not have wanted others to be sad after he death. It seems the most fitting way to honor her that those who cherish the ideals for which she died should grieve not with tears, but with redoubled efforts to bring about the freedom and dignity she wanted for herself and her countrymen. It is time for the United States to prove that it cares about these ideals as much as it claims it does, and work to support the people of Iran directly without validating the regime under which they suffer. Nothing can bring Neda Agha-Soltan back from the dead, but it is never too late to show that she did not die in vain.
Another example of the misdirection and failure of the foreign policies of Soetoro, Rodham, and Kohn.
If the Iranian Green Movement showed more interest in climate change, and rallied for carbon taxes rather than human rights, they might get the support of this administration.