Neda Agha Soltan was a young woman whose death was captured on amateur camera and circulated around the world in 2009.
She was fatally shot by a plain clothes sniper in the heat of the Iranian people’s protests to the rigged outcome of the mullahs’ sham presidential elections.
The short clip of Neda’s last moments recorded on a cellphone went viral around the world in which Neda fell to the ground while a man begged her: “Neda, don’t be afraid,” “Neda, don’t be afraid!” The young woman’s warm blood rushed from her mouth and nose and made the whole her face and asphalt of the street red. Neda’s eyes were still open.
As Amnesty International put it, Ali Khamenei had given the green signal to revolutionary guards, paramilitary Bassij and the State Security Force the day before at the Friday prayers on June 19, 2009, to crack down on protesters.
At least 100 protesters are believed to have been killed in the protests.
Ever since, Neda’s face who died with open eyes, turned into the symbol of the Iranian people’s 2009 uprising against the clerical regime and opened the eyes of the world to the reality of what goes on in Iran.
According to the Time magazine, the footage of Neda’s death is “probably the most widely witnessed death in human history.”
Indeed, who was Neda Agha Soltan?
Neda Agha Sultan was born on January 23, 1983, in a middle class family in Tehran. She studied theology at the North Branch of Tehran’s Azad University, but quit school due to pressures of university officials to observe the compulsory veil. Subsequently, she started learning Turkish language and music, privately. She played violin.
Her mother, Hajar Rostami, described her daughter as the following.
“Neda wanted freedom. As a woman, she sought social freedoms and a humane life. She always said, ‘Men and women are no different. They are equal. Why is it that in Iran, the rights of men and women are not the same? What is the difference between a man and a woman? Why do I have to wear the compulsory veil because I am a woman and why my rights have been trampled by the law?’
“Neda quit school because she could not accept the obligation to wear the veil in university. She constantly said, ‘Why should I wear the chador (veil) in an all-women’s environment. Why should I constantly be worried about my dress when I go out. Why should I feel stressed when I go to a party and worry about a surprise raid and arrests?’ Neda cared about equality of women and men. She wanted freedom.”
Who killed Neda Agha Soltan?
According to eyewitnesses at the scene, a plainclothes sniper shot Neda during street protests against the results of the 2009 presidential election on Saturday, June 20, 2009, in Tehran’s Amirabad neighborhood at the intersection of Khosravi and Salehi Streets.
A person named Abbas Kargar Javid was arrested by the people at the scene as accused of killing Neda Agha Soltan. He was a member of the IRGC Basij force and a photo of his membership card in the Warriors of West Tehran called “Fan of Hazrat Fatemeh” was quickly spread on social media. The judiciary issued an arrest warrant for him, but the investigation into Neda’s murder ended with the allegation that Abbas Kargar Javid had escaped.
So far, no one has taken responsibility for the death of Neda Agha Soltan. During the months following her death, the state radio and television and some Iranian authorities offered different versions of her death on several occasions. Over the past years, the state security forces have restricted or shown violence to those who visit her gravesite to conduct observance ceremonies for her.