Neda Agha-Soltan (Persian: ندا آقا سلطان - Nedā Āġā-Soltān; born 1982, died June 20, 2009)
The images of Neda's murder are still on my mind. I believe they always will be. Like the image of Mohammed al-Durrah, the 12 years old boy shot with his father during the 2000 intifada in Gaza. Unlike the tank man image taken by Jeff Widener in Tiananmen square in 1989, Neda and Mohammed's images show the death of completely innocent people, that were killed just because they were there. They were not standing in front of a tank. They were just on the street, the day they died.
Neda Agha-Soltan was not throwing rocks at the Basiji or shouting against the Ayatollahs' regime; she wasn't even near a group of protesters doing those things. She was a woman walking on the street, coming from or going to a demonstration against the government that oppresses her people, a right granted to citizens by the Iranian constitution. Yet, she was singled out and shot in cold blood as she was walking peacefully, in what is a clear sign of the true nature of the Iranian regime: fascism.
She was a woman in Iran. A woman that like so many others in so many different ways aspired for change. She, like so many other women in Iran, was given new hope by the movement on the streets of Tehran, Esfahan, Tabriz, Kerman, spreading like fire through dry grassland. This makes her death a much greater symbol for those seeking freedom, for true freedom means human dignity and you can't have human dignity when basic human rights are being suppressed. She became a martyr in a greater cause, much greater than other causes that feed from martyrdom. She died not on the barricades, not on the front lines of this struggle, but peacefully walking the street; she died because she dared not being free but dream of freedom.
The fascist beasts that murdered Neda, like all fascist beasts everywhere, have not learnt that dreams are impossible to kill. But they try. They try with all their might and all their means. They shall not succeed. And yet, even as I write these words, outside of Iran the fear of this spreading fire grows. The role of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook in the Iranian revolt is downplayed more and more; the control freaks in power try to adjust, to understand how this is possible and how to manipulate and block the truth in this new age of information; the opinion makers desperately gasp in a world where opinion is no longer exclusive and at long last the word came to triumph over the sword; the false prophets of democracy shout and spout their bile without shame to try and stop this debacle looking as if they cherish the very things they despise; now they shed fake tears for Neda, when the world knows how many innocents like her they killed before. To free them, of course. Shameless.
I truly hope, like many many others, that Neda's death, and the deaths of hundreds of other Iranians, was not in vain. I truly hope the people of Iran can at long last win their freedom and embrace true democracy, parting ways with religion as a society and entering the modern world, keeping their true faith an individual right. I truly hope the rest of us finally learn how to respect them and help them achieve these goals, and at last stop thinking how this change can be made profitable and serve interests other than those of the Iranian people. In a world in turmoil, the revolting Iranians are heroes. Lets us always remember Neda, but let us never forget those left fighting for what she hoped for and will never have. And above all, let us make sure they will have it. For themselves.