For Young Neda Soltani

From an unknown observer:

The face of a martyr? <em>Janbakhteh</em> Neda Agha-Soltani (1982-2009) (Courtesy: El Enigma)

The face of a martyr? Janbakhteh Neda Agha-Soltani (1982-2009) (Courtesy: El Enigma)

A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a Basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes.

The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St.

Neda Soltani (ندا سلطانی) or Neda Agha-Soltani (ندا آقا سلطان ) was a young Iranian woman who was accompanied by her music teacher and friend Hamid Panehi and two others when their vehicle was caught in a traffic jam. They were on their way to a demonstration at Freedom Square, and got out to get some air. Here is where it gets murky. They may or may not have been participants, but were mere passersby, forced to go on foot to complete their journey, sometimes mixing with those who were demonstrating on the street.

At any rate, without warning, Neda was shot through the heart by a Basiji sharpshooter while she was talking on her cell phone. It is known that she was indeed twenty-seven as sources are now saying, not a teenager; although she did sympathize with the aims of the demonstrators. Some are cautioning others about using ‘martyr’ to describe Agha-Soltani.

Shahid, the Arabic word for martyr, is derived from religious literature and has become ubiquitous in the names of streets, universities and institutions in Iran’s theocracy.

Instead, janbakhteh, a non-religious term for someone who lost their life, has been used to describe Neda and others who have suffered the same fate.

However, Iranian authorities aren’t taking any chances about labels. They are now denying Neda Agha-Soltani the basic respect of an Islamic burial, which is the equivalent of cursing her and leaving her without blessing or excommunicating her and denying her final rites.

The authorities had already banned a public funeral or wake (as per tradition) and have prevented gatherings in her name while the state-controlled media has not mentioned Miss Soltan’s death.

Today it was reported that they had also told her family to take down the black mourning banners outside their home in the Tehran suburbs to prevent it becoming a place of pilgrimage. They were also told they could not hold a memorial service at a mosque.

Nevertheless posters of Miss Soltan’s face have started to appear all over Tehran.

The Basij are the paramilitary auxiliary of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and thence at the disposal of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. They are sometimes thought of as men who could not make the grade to become Guards.

From Nico Pitney’s liveblogging at Huffington Post a few days ago:

8:53 PM ET — “Sister, have a short sleep, your last dream be sweet.” Yesterday we printed a touching letter from an Iranian woman that began with these ominous lines: “I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow. Maybe they will turn violent. Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed…”

Tonight, she posted a second letter, passed along and translated by two readers. She writes about her “sister” in this cause who was killed today, referring to Neda.

Yesterday I wrote a note, with the subject line “tomorrow is a great day perhaps tomorrow I’ll be killed.” I’m here to let you know I’m alive but my sister was killed…

I’m here to tell you my sister died while in her father’s hands
I’m here to tell you my sister had big dreams…
I’m here to tell you my sister who died was a decent person… and like me yearned for a day when her hair would be swept by the wind… and like me read “Forough” [Forough Farrokhzad]… and longed to live free and equal… and she longed to hold her head up and announce, “I’m Iranian”… and she longed to one day fall in love to a man with a shaggy hair… and she longed for a daughter to braid her hair and sing lullaby by her crib…

my sister died from not having life… my sister died as injustice has no end… my sister died since she loved life too much… and my sister died since she lovingly cared for people…

my loving sister, I wish you had closed your eyes when your time had come… the very end of your last glance burns my soul….

sister have a short sleep. your last dream be sweet.


Allah akbar.

~ by blksista on June 22, 2009.

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