Kathy Riordan

Kathy Riordan
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JUNE 22, 2009 12:43PM

Updates on Neda, Symbol of a Revolution

Rate: 4 Flag

I am posting this here because there are a number of conflicting reports circulating in the media, and it seemed well worth getting updated information out to a wider audience.

First, there are a number of photos circulating of a live 'Neda' which have not been verified as being the person who was killed in the Neda video.  One in particular depicts a young woman in scarf and is described as a passport photo.  I have been informed that the 'Neda Soldani' in that photo is a different Neda from the one killed in the video, and that someone spoke to the woman in that passport photo yesterday.  Media should exercise caution in using that photo, as it is appearing in both mainstream and social media at the moment.  Understandably, the family of the Neda killed in the video values their privacy and security at this time, and anyone purporting to post 'real' photos of Neda will be met with both resistance and skepticism.  This particular passport photo, however, seems not to be the Neda killed in the video.

Second, there is much misreporting in the press about the provenance of the Neda video.  Matthew Warner of The Guardian (UK) has conducted a telephone interview with  (an Iranian living in the Netherlands who was the first person to post the video online).  He clarifies in that interview how he came to be in possession of it in the first place, and how it came to wider viewing.  The audio clip has been posted on The Guardian's blog here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2009/jun/22/iran-ayatollah-ali-khamenei

Third, it is not known at this point whether the man in the video with Neda is her father, as was initially reported by the doctor in the video, or her philosophy teacher, as has also been reported.  It is also not known whether she was killed by a sniper from a rooftop, as was initially reported, or someone passing by on a motorcycle, which has also been reported.  The audio clip interview in The Guardian seems to indicate that there is good reason to believe it was a rooftop sniper. 

Updated:  I have been informed that the man in the blue-striped shirt with her is Neda's music instructor. 

I will post further updates as I learn them. 

 

Updated:  I am informed that the following photos are confirmed as being of the same person, Neda Agha-Soltan, who died in the video:

5165_90703968259_605123259_1904857_113664_nneda-agha-soltan_47642233

neda-agha-soltan_47642241 

art 

 (photos above were apparently provided by family and family friends of Neda Agha-Soltan)

 

 

Updated:  Neda's fiance, Caspian Makan, has given an interview to Al Jazeera, which has more photos of her, and them together on the video as it has been posted to YouTube, and provides more detail of her life and context for her untimely death:

 

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BBC Persia has aired an interview with Neda's fiance, which can be found in its original here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/iran/2009/06/090622_mm_neda_soltan.shtml

And the English translation of the interview:

Kasamin Makan, Neda Agha-Setan's fiancee, was interviewed by BBC Persia, noting that Neda would have turned 27 this year. "Neda's goal was not Mousavi or Ahmadinejad, it was her country and was important for her to fight for this goal. She had said many times that if she had lost her life or been shot in the heart, which indeed what happened, it was important for her to continue in this path," he said.

Considering her young age she has taught a lesson to us all.

About the day of the incident, Mr. Makan said: "When the clashes were occurring, Neda was far away from the demonstrations, she was in one of the side alleys near Amir Abad. Thirsty and tired or being cooped up for about an hour in the car in heavy traffic with her music instructor, she finally gets out of the car and, based on the pictures sent in by the people, armed forces in civilian clothes and the Basiji targeted and shot her in the heart."

"It was over in a matter of minutes, the Shariati Hospital was nearby, the people around her tried to bring her to the emergency room by car, but before that could even happen she died in her instructor's arms."

Mr. Makan added: "We got her body back finally yesterday with some diffculties. Of course, her body was not at the Tehran Coroner but at a one outside of Tehran. The medical examiners
wanted parts of her body, including a portion of her femoral bone but the chief medical examiner would not say why and no explanations were ever given."

Finally the family consented just so they could get her body back as soon as possible, since just this issue could have resulted in delaying the reception of the body. We buried the body in a small area in the Zahra Cemetery in the late afternoon of 31 Khordad. Also, they had brought in other people who had been killed in the protests so it seemed that the whole event was scheduled to be such."

About payment for releasing the remains, Mr. Makan had this to say: "No specific amount has been paid at this time, although hospitals, clinics, surgeons and medical examiners have been ordered by the Iranian security services, based on various orders, not to list 'bullet wound' as the cause of death on the death certificate in order to prevent the families from filing international complaints in the future. I haven't seen the release notice of Neda's remains yet, but I will obtain it from her father in the coming days."

Mr. Makan regarding government ban of memorial service for Neda Agha Setan said: "We were going to hold her memorial Monday 1st of Tir at 2:30 PM at a mosque at Sharyati street north of Seyed Khandan. But Basijis and mosque officials refused our request for her memorial service so to avoid further public confrontation and instability. They knew that Neda was an died innocently, and people in Iran and the international community are informed of that fact. So they decided to avoid a situation where a mass rally would take place. In any way, we do not have permission for a memorial service for now."

However, many eye witnesses told BBC Persia that a large gathering took place with the intention of performing a memorial service at Al Reza Mosque at Nilofar square in Tehran. But the security forces intervened by throwing people out of the mosque and intervening with the service.

Mr. Makan also commented on fake pictures of videos claiming to be Neda at various sites:"I was looking at some sites including 'iReport'. There was a picture of a young woman with green signs from previous calm demonstrations and had claimed it was Neda before being shot. These pictures have no relation to the event. It seems that Mr. Mousavi's supporters are trying to portray Neda as one of his supporters. This is not so. Neda was incredibly close to me and she was never supportive of either two groups. Neda wanted freedom and freedom for all."

BBC Farsi tried to contact Neda Agha-Sultan's other family members but was told by a close relative of hers that, for reasons of their own, the Agha Sultan family could grant an interview.
I am in receipt of this information:

Sunday June 28th the world will officially memorialize Neda Agha Soltan.

6/28/2009 Every place of Worship, Synagogue, church, temple, mosque and home from all 4 corners of
the world shall pray for Neda's family and freedom.
Sunday June 28th the world will officially memorialize Neda Agha Soltan.

This should be used in dictionaries as part of the definition of the word “absurd!”
It should also be noted that there are some people who are reporting Neda's name as 'Neda Salehi.' This is simply a reference to the street on which she was killed, not her last name.
Frank, it is not unusual for cultures to memorialize or pray for the dead. Dead martyrs, even if they are simply symbolic, have been known to get entire days dedicated to their memory. Given that, I'd consider the use of the word 'absurd' somewhat hyperbolic.

I am using this particular blog post primarily as a place to post updates as I get them for those looking for information on, and reporting on, Neda.
Kathy:

Thank you for your posting on this tragic event.

FYI, a co-blogger on TMV, Dr. Klarissa Estes has also written a touching piece on this

http://themoderatevoice.com/36443/neda-16-year-old-girl-murdered-in-iran-she-is-voice-of-freedom/y
Amy Beam was instrumental in researching the authenticity of the previous 'passport photo' of a Neda Soltani in headscarf and gives an excellent narrative of the process here:

http://tinyurl.com/ndnp33
The Los Angeles Times has posted a photograph which purports to be of Neda Agha-Soltan's grave, originally posted on TwitPic:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2009/06/this-photograph-purporting-to-show-the-grave-of-neda-agha-soltan-surfaced-today-on-twitpic---amateur-video-footage.html
Caspian Makan is said to be the correct name of the fiance of Neda Agha-Soldan, according to the BBC, who posted an English-language article based on his interview today with BBC Persia. He confirms the circumstances of Neda's death and what happened following, including restrictions on her burial and subsequent memorials:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8113552.stm
There has originally been some question regarding the authenticity of the video. I can say for my own part, regarding my involvement in helping the original poster of the video bring it to wider viewing, that I have spoken to Hamad Rad by telephone from the Netherlands and have heard his interview with The Guardian, and those voices are the same and his story is the same. He is quite sincere in the telling of it, and passionate about his involvement in the process of bringing the video from its source in Iran to global viewing. Certainly, now that family and friends have been interviewed, including Neda's fiance, we know with greater certainty some of the details of Neda, her identity, her life and the circumstances of her death.

CNN's Christiane Amanpour referred in a recent report on cable news that 'Neda' was a nom de guerre. We know for a certainty it was not just a pseudonym applied to a face of martyrdom. It was her name. We also know that in Persian her name means, essentially, "the calling," which has also been translated by some as "the voice."
The New York Times confirms that it was her singing instructor, Hamid Panahi, who was with her at the time of her death, and gives support to some of the reported circumstances:
http://tinyurl.com/l2zfs6

Roger Cohen of The New York Times confirms that Mr. Panahi said Neda's last words were, "I burn."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/opinion/23cohenweb.html?_r=1
the face of totalitarianism--psychopathy by the military.
the death is a tragedy/atrocity.
but for every 1 Neda there are 50, 100 .. 1000? afghanistan civilian villagers dismembered by US built UAVs. more details on the links in my blog
There was a lot of progress yesterday in getting media outlets to stop using the incorrect 'passport photo' that had been purported to be of Neda, but was shown to be of another woman who is living, and both the Los Angeles Times and New York Times have corrected.

The only known verified photos of Neda thus far are the ones posted above. Any others should not be used.
Dr. Amy Beam, who did the legwork on uncovering the incorrect photo of Neda which was being widely used, has put that story in a blog post, here:
How the Wrong Neda Photo Became Iran's Face of Freedom
http://wipoun.blogspot.com/
For those who are unclear on which 'Neda' pic is incorrect, it is here: http://twitpic.com/870kd

This photo is of a living woman and should not be used in the media to depict the woman who died in the video.
CNN has obtained new photos of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman who died in the video, and has posted them in this article on their website:

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/06/23/iran.neda.profile/index.html#cnnSTCText
There is now an excellent summary of the known details of Neda's life and death on Wikipedia, at the page 'The Death of Neda Agha-Soltan,' found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Neda_Agha-Soltan
Yes, Brian, that's true. When this was first posted, we were looking for every piece of information we could find and trying to compile them in one location.