In death, Neda Agha-Soltan is the tragic symbol of Iran’s struggle for democracy. Her dying moments, after being shot in the chest a year ago in the protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed election victory, were captured by onlookers on their mobile phones. That scene in a Tehran street, as fellow protesters struggled to help her, quickly went viral, spreading via computer screens across the world.
Scores of people were killed during the post-election protests but the raw, undimmed power of the 26-year-old music student’s death at the hands of the Basij, Iranian government paramilitaries, gave opposition groups in Iran their most potent martyr.
It is a sign of this power that President Ahmadinejad’s government has gone such lengths to jam satellite broadcasts of a new British-made documentary For Neda. So concerned were the Iranian authorities about the documentary’s impact that they have released their own film – which blames the resistance movement outside Iran for Neda’s death. Her family reportedly came under strong pressure to co-operate with the official version but refused. They did, however, co-operate with the British documentary that depicts her death and the impact it has had on her family, on Iran and around the world.
Neda’s mother, Hajar Rostami Motlagh, spoke yesterday of the heartache and inspiration that her daughter’s death has come to symbolise. Neda’s death was one of many during the Iranian Green Revolution, but in…