Neda was no Martyr!

Neda Agha Soultan became a commodity that just could not be ignored


Neda was no Martyr!
by Siamack Baniameri

I was flipping channels the other night when I came across an interview with Reza Aslan who was predictably discussing the recent events in Iran. Good for him. The guy knows his shit and he sure has cashed in. During the interview, Aslan displayed his green bracelet with the word, “Neda” written on it and exclaimed that Neda Agha Soltan was the most recognized martyr of the green movement. Wow! I almost fell off my seat.

I then remembered that other organizations have claimed the same thing. We all remember Reza Pahlavi’s emotional leakage in the Press Club when he mentioned Neda’s name while weeping like a little girl and MKO’s leadership who have staked their claim to Neda’s legacy, not to mention leftist groups who claim that her father was a member of a leftist movement in Iran. I even remember my own cousin calling her the martyr of the Iranian freedom. Even the IRI government got in the act and claimed that she was murdered by foreign intelligence services and announced an investigation into her brutal murder.

Neda Agha Soltan became a commodity that just could not be ignored. Her sensational and vivid murder captured on video shocked the world and gave the opposition groups the image of purity and innocence they were longing for. Like vultures, they came for the feast.

Martyr by definition is a person who willingly and freely sacrifices her life for a cause that she passionately believes in. Neda was no martyr. She neither “willingly” nor “freely” scarified her life for the green movement or freedom for Iran or Iranians. Unlike Reza Aslan who is at the right place at the right time, Neda was at a wrong place at a wrong time. Neda did not ask for this. She did not even vote in the election and had no faith in IRI’s ability to reform itself. She regarded Mousavi as another gutless inner circle of the leader who, like his ally and mentor Khatami, will have no profound impact on making the lives of Iranians better. Neda just happened to get the shaft in the wrong end. If she could do it again, I promise you that she would go home with a BIG bilaakh in the air for the green movement, monarchists, leftists, MKO cronies and the makers of that stupid bracelet. The interesting part is that even the greenies didn’t at first acknowledge her as a martyr. They knew that she was not dumb enough to think that Mousavi could be a factor in preventing the demise of the Iranian pride and heritage. But the greenies soon realized that Neda was an institution that just will not go away and jumping on the bandwagon was in order.

Acts of brutal murders like Neda and others who lost their lives in recent events, torture and rape of prisoners, kidnapping and government assassinations have been taking place in Iran for the past 30 years during the time when Mousavi, Karoubi and Khatimi had been in power. What amazes me is that the trio acts as if the brutalities and crackdowns are new phenomenon that is unprecedented in Islamic Republic. And what amazes me more are those who still believe in these clowns.

Those who regard Neda as a martyr should be ashamed of themselves. She was too smart to be one you.


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What Does Neda's Monther believe?

by Iran_e_abad on

Amir Khosro Neyrizi

Was Neda a Willing Participant Or Not?

by Amir Khosro Neyrizi on

Mr. Baniameri, 

You stated that " Martyr by definition is a person who willingly and freely sacrifices her life for a cause that she passionately believes in. Neda was no martyr. She neither “willingly” nor “freely” scarified her life for the green movement or freedom for Iran or Iranians. "

Now my question to you is: Was Neda dragged to the demonstration against her own will and she was not a willing participant?!

Everyone & anyone who participated or participates in the demonstrations against te regime knew and knows how brutal the basisji thugs can be and the risk that one takes, if attacked or arrested. 

Yes, everyone is claiming Neda, because she is Iranian and the symbol of our struggle. 

Your other statment regarding Mr. Aslan cashing in was just yet another old trick used by the likes of Hossein Shariatmadari (Kayhan'd editor-in-chief) to dismiss anyone's opinion that is not inline with your own. Or could it be that the grren monster has taken over your thoughts?

Amir Khosro Neyrizi 





Thanks Siavash

by Mehrban on

I understand your response.  


To Mehrban

by Siavash31 on

I didn't say that the Green movement is not a political movement, I said that it is not a political "party".

A political party is a political organization that seeks to get into power, like the Republican party in the U.S or the MKO or Hezbeh Mashrooteh...etc It has its own leadership and suscribed members.

A social movement is when the entire society or a very large portion of it rises up to create a fundamental social change. like the Civil Rights movement which demanded equal right
under the law for all Americans regardless of their race and skin color.






by Mehrban on

I don't understand, what does it mean that the green movement is not a political movement but a social one?  


To my fellow Iranians

by Siavash31 on

Please don't let dark and cynical people like Baniameri inject venom in our movement and create division among us.

For years we have been suffering from the same nihilism and mistrust and cynicism that Baniameri is promoting here. We have been unable to unite and even unwilling to claim our right because we thought that everyone else is corrupt, that people are "voltures" and everyone but us has "blood on his hand"! 

And now that we have finally been able to unite and take action for a better future, cynical people like Baniameri can not keep themselves from injecting poison in our movement.

Contrary to what Baniameri suggests, the Green movement is not a "political party" or an "opposition group" trying to benefit from the death of a young woman. It is a social movement similar to the Civil Rights movement in the United-States. And the "greenies" as he call them, are the Iranian PEOPLE claiming their rights with courage and determination.

And finally, to Mr Baniameri:

How do you know that Neda regarded Mr. Mousaivi as "another gutless inner circle of the leade"? How do you know that she did not believe in reforms? How did you know that she was not willing to give her life for her country? How do you know that she would show a "big bilakh" to her fellow Iranians, just like you are? Aren't YOU using her as a commodity to promote your own cynical views?

And about whether she was a "martyr" or not. Let me tell you something. I am just coming back from Iran and I did participate in almost all the rallies and events.  I know for a fact that ANYONE who participated in those rallies knew that there was a risk to be killed. Neda died the day after Khameni threatened everyone to death if they went on the streets. And she was shot in one of the hottest spot in town. I am sure she didn't want to die but I know that she had no fear to be right there with her people. How long has it been since you last set foot in Iran?






Martyr or Not

by RezaKnowsAcu on

I do agree with your article regarding Neda and the fact, she never asked for this to begin with. Ofcourse we all know the dangers of being in this type situations, but losing your life as a Martyr, must be given willingly and at any given time. The article also touches on the real fact. This news was used and overly used by the oppositions, as soon as the opportunity was seen. Thank you for bringing this forward.


A blog on the word Martyr

by Mehrban on

Couple of months ago there was a blog on the word "Martyr".  The title resonated with me (something like that we should never use it) but did not get a chance to read it.  I have been trying to find it again but no success.  Could someone please post the link or the blog again?  Many thanks.

American Dream

Neda was a supporter of Mr. Mousavi

by American Dream on

Mr. Mousavi was the reform candidate in the last Iranian election. Mr. Mousavi was the Prime Minister of Iran during the 1980s. After the Iranian Revolution, it was the 1980s in which Iran executed the most amount of political prisoners. Mr. Mousavi is a supporter of the theocracy. What reform is this?

My heart goes out to Neda and her family.

The reform movement in Iran is not reform by any shape or form. The reform movement in Iran extends the lifespan of the Islamic Republic of Iran.




by capt_ayhab on

Here is the entire paragraph:

What difference does it make to the dead? to their family? to the entire humanity if they are called martyr or any other adjective? Why even debate on such an issue? What difference does it make in the whole scheme of the things whether their death FITS the definition of the word according to the dictionaries? 

Last sentence wraps everything together


rosie is roxy is roshan

Very short ps to all

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Please, no one address me directly any further on this thread. If you want to talk to me, please do so privately. Thank you.

rosie is roxy is roshan


by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I think that what Iran-e-Abad and Anahid and MPD and I and some others have been trying to show in the most recent posts is that this question has been by now overanalyzed and overargued to the nines, that we all brought something, we all learned something, and we all have some things to think about. So that it might be time for a littlle ruminating without searching for THE ANSWER, a little closure, a little 'chit chat', and a little JOKING AROUND. Which means that finally a grieving and deeply troubled community has gotten back on their feet enough to accept the new situation in Iran with a little more strength and confidence.

But since you re-brought it up, without analyzing and rebutting piece by piece your short post, I'll  say this:

I wrote a bit below, in answer to someone else's  iron-clad, etched in stone, re-re-hashing of the categorical rejection of the use of the word "martyr" on this thread, by saying that Neda SYMBOLIZES (the word I took from you) for many an entire nation in martyrdom. Whether she participated willingly or not, and regardless of what she would've thought (a logically meaningless construct, I believe I showed), or even what her family does think.

I reached this clear understanding through a careful reading of the posts here from a standpoint, as a non-Iranian, that is probably more neutral than most people.

One of the things I think we've established here is that 'martyr' carries a religious OVERTONE (if not specific MEANING), as well as for some one of free choice. I have irrefutably shown that within the specific religious tradition concerned, ?martyr" does NOT inecessarily mply free choice, because a fundamental aspect of that tradition is that the martyrdom at Karbala included " babies six months old and old people over 90'. So that free choice is one of the FEW things from this discussion that we can throw out the window.

The Karbala story is clearly subconsciously deeply ingrained even in some of the most ardent secularists or they wouldn't be so attached to this term. So the problem of the use of the word 'martyr' should come down. IMHO, not to whether it is right ot wrong or fair to Neda for Iranians to use this word for Neda, since its religious sense is SO deeply ingrained in the collective psyche, but rather: IS IT A HEALTHY CONCEPT overall for the benefit of the future? Each will have their own ideas. With openness and careful attention to all  the beliefs and opinons, understanding on this CRUCIAL issue should be able to be furthered.

My personal opinion at this moment, and always subject to change, is that for the people who use this word, it is healthy for them now because they need it to have the hope and courage necessary to change the future.


Scrutinizing the word "martyr" further, one thing that has not been articulated here as much as the others is that, precisely due to its specific religious context,  there is also an inherent overtone of a failed and despairing sacrifice, the reward of which will be in the afterlife until the Twelfth Imam returns.

My best hope would be that, since language makes dictionaries rather than the other way around, the extraordinary impact of Neda's murder and those images now indelibly emblazoned on the Iranian psyche will open up a new sense of what martyrdom means: an optimistic martyrdom that the Twelfth Imam lies within each individual and the return from Occultation will come sooner rather than later, and that we can accelerate this process collectively, to form a SECULAR free Iran. Which will then remove some of the inherent religious connotation and sense of failure from the term,. As well as the danger of the Twelfth Imam being projected onto a new Khomeini, sacred or secular, with its inevitable tragic consequences.

Thus the Karbala tradition will transform, and eventually the word 'martyr' disappear from struggles for political freedom, as in fact it has almost completely in the secular West since the Reformation.


You will have different ideas, you may find mine completely off base. But that won't change the hearts and minds of people attached to Neda as their martyr all that easily.  So  if you truly wish to win hearts and minds to your perspectives, my  suggestion would be to begin by not calling these millions upon millions of Iranians::

" a bunch of strangers."


Kaveh, this land, this blood-soaked land, this land of its exiled Mazdaist ancestors, of  'uncleanliness' of its Jews and Christians, its constant crucifixion of some of its finest children, the Bahai; this land of Karbala, of beating breasts and icons and wails and Martyrs' is your home. Your people need you for your common struggle and you need them. Embrace them as they are. And as they can be.

Khaneh siah nist

Come home, Kaveh. Come home . And start building.



Kaveh Nouraee

What difference does it make to the dead?

by Kaveh Nouraee on

It makes all the difference in the world!

In life, this woman would have never received even a fraction of the attention she has received in death.

And now, weeks after she has been laid to rest, ....this.

And to suggest that it shouldn't make a difference is insensitive to Neda, her memory and her family. She never had a say in the matter, nor did her family. They knew her. They loved her. But somehow a bunch of strangers have taken it upon themselves to decide to call her a "martyr".

rosie is roxy is roshan

MPD, (ps again) On the inherent subjectivity of language

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

I understand language is an ever evolving animal, but even animal has a meaning in the dictionaries, otherwise someone might think animal might mean shoemaker, and someone else might think shoemaker might mean tomato.  In regard to "martyr" in most English-to-English dictionaries it seems that "martyr" has to do something with "God", and not tomato, unless someone might think tomato might mean "God".

My point, exactly.

As you can see, they are part Green.



Anahid Hojjati

MPD, When did smiley face in your Avatar turned green?

by Anahid Hojjati on

Dear MPD, I might be late but I just noticed smiley face in your avatar is green.  Nice touch.  Please don't tell me it has been like that for  a month and I just noticed.   

rosie is roxy is roshan

Well, first of all, MPD, I...

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Well, first of all, MPD, I think we already established irrefutably that the purpose of this article was for Siamack to 'willingly' and 'freely' martyr himself.

And second of all,, no. We do not need a new set of dictionaries. We need a new set of tomatoes.

Khaneh siah nist.

Multiple Personality Disorder

خودت واقعأ که!

Multiple Personality Disorder

What do you mean by "The definition of martyr is as stated; therefore..."?  You cut and you sew, and you conclude what you tailored is good and the rest of us should be ashamed of ourselves because we don' buy it!  That's just great!

Multiple Personality Disorder

Dictionaries DO not make language. Language makes dictionaries.

by Multiple Personality Disorder on


Yes, I understand language is an ever evolving animal, but even animal has a meaning in the dictionaries, otherwise someone might think animal might mean shoemaker, and someone else might think shoemaker might mean tomato.  In regard to "martyr" in most English-to-English dictionaries it seems that "martyr" has to do something with "God", and not tomato, unless someone might think tomato might mean "God".

But anyway, if SB was using his own interpretation of the meaning of the word "martyr", he should have said so, i.e. "according to my definition of martyr...", or "the way I interoperate martyr is that..."  Instead he specifically says "Martyr by definition is..." and we have to believe him because he then puts those two keywords, "willing" and "freely" in quotation marks, and then he tells other people to be ashamed of themselves because they don't buy into his interpretation of the word.

So, tell me, does anything I said here makes any sense, or do we need a new set of dictionaries for this kind of language? 

rosie is roxy is roshan

psss MPD.......

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Here is a gift for you while I go shopping:

Dicitionaires to not make language. Language makes dictionaries.

Who knows what tomorrow's dictionary may bring?


Leo I am.  :oP 

rosie is roxy is roshan

What is 'everyone's' problem? / PS!!!

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Well, I don't know what everyone's problem is, but thank god someone does. And that someone is you! So if you don't mind, could you please read up every post on the thread twice so you could explain to me better what everyone's problem is? Feel free to start with mine. :o)

PS Okay, so I am trying to be a smart ass these past few posts to get people to see that there are no absolute answers, language is as subjective as it is objective and that's the way it should be. But to try to address your question as seriously and as clearly as I can, what I gleaned overall from numerous posts from people who said they feel that Neda is a martyr (as to 'what is wrong' with all of them lol)  is that to them Neda  symbolizes a nation which they perceive as in a state of martyrdom. So here is a concrete example. In the Karbala story, a lot of people were martyred. There were innocent babies there who never chose to go. They are considred mertyred too.


WHAT is everyone's problem? Vaghaan ke!!!!

by KhorshidKhanoom on

1. For those of you who say he wasnt SYMPATHETIC enough about her death; learn to read. He says her "brutal murder" and his last sentence is "She was too smart to be one of you."


2. The definition of martyr is as stated; therefore she is not a martyr but that doesn't mean she didnt become an icon, hes not DENYING that she was/is a huge icon, hes simply saying she is not a martyr. WHICH SHE WASN'T. She wasnt an active protester, and people need to realize that.

3. I've seen countless of students who actually WERE protesters, run into people's homes pull out the bullets/bb gun/ glass out of their bodies then run back out onto the street to fight again. THOSE people can qualify as martyrs.

I've even seen the SAME exact video as Neda - shot in the heart, eyes roll back, blood filled face on 3-4 other young men. They are martyrs, not an innocent bystander who was brutally and horribly murdered.


MURDER is not the SAME as being a MARTYR. 



(And don't start calling me cruel or vile; I agree she is a huge icon, and I am deeply saddened by her passing but I don't believe she is a martyr.)


I think this guy is only

by sbglobe on

I think this guy is only trying to provoke and therefore should not matter what he says. He thinks he is still funny you know  

rosie is roxy is roshan

What I learned.

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

Siamack is in as much pain about Neda as anyone and far more than some. In fact precisely because he doesn't see her as a martyr, he lacks the kind of deep belief in something that has saved some people from complete despair.

When a person's despair is channeled through anger, or even rage directed toward others, this presents a challenge to defend oneself, and to articulate that defense, which can strengthen this sense of hope. Once articulated and strengthened, this hope can be better transmitted to those in despair.

I agree with Iran-e-Abad. Keep 'em rollin' in, Sia. Keep 'em rollin' in.


PS I had a LOT more problems with the use of the word 'martyr' before I read this thread than I do now. Isn't that ironic?  lol


Please, let's not use this word anymore

by Mehrban on

I think, there are two ideas presented in this article, one is using Neda as a commodity and the other is the word "Martyr" or Shahiid.

I am much more interested in the Martyr issue.  I think Siamac in the last sentence is expressing a distaste for this word in the context of IR which I happen to share.   Regardless of its dictionary defenition, in the context of Iran and IR what is this word?  What does it imply?  The way I see it, from the start of the rule of IR, a Martyr or Shahiid is an empty title you (your survivors) can look forward to for the price of your life, generally as a foot soldier of the state to advance its agenda.  I think in the last sentence Siamac may be saying enough of this hypocrisy of Martyrdom, if that is what he is saying, I agree.  


What did I learn from Siamack's article

by Iran_e_abad on

1] I learned that it is OK for people to have different perspectives/opinions
about an issue. But at the same time, I learned that it is irrational
to label yourself as smart and to the same order, label your opponents
as stupid. 

2] I learned that it would be more rational not to
feel self righteous and self invincible when writing an article. One needs to be critique of
his own work before sharing his/her opinions with others.I can not instruct my opponnets to be ashamed of their views. What if I proven to be wrong?

3] I learned that to better convince
the audience, the author needs to do literature search and provide
references in his article. If I ever decide to publish an article and
provide definition of Martyr, I try to look up the definition in a
dictionary, or valid reference. One can not be his own reference when
writing an article.

4] I learned that to criticize using NEDA as a commodity, one needs to refrain from using NEDA as a commodity. If I believe  Reza Pahlavi's cry for NEDA is hypocritical, at the same time, I should not use NEDA to echo what I believe in (flipping the bird for green movement).

5] Finally
I learned that it is through logical and rational conversations, free
from labeling, insult and emotions that progression of thought can be

I encourage Siamack to continue posting his articles on



Neda's Death, a symbol of tyranny


Neda's death before the world reveald the cruel nature and inhumane behavior of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  It represented the core suppressive nature of this regime.  It embarrassed them to no end.  It Showed the necessity for change, it became a symbol of hope for Iranian people.  

rosie is roxy is roshan

Would Neda consider herself a martyr?

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

well, you see, the problem is there are two Nedas, one living and one dead.

The one who used to be living, if you could have asked her while she was living she couldn't have answered you validly because she wouldn't've died yet to be able to give you a realistic answer about the word she'd use to describe her death.

And the other one is dead so if you could ask her, she wouldn't really be offering the perspective of Neda, because the dead Neda's not 'really' the 'real' Neda. Who was the live one her family and fiance knew and who had never experienced her death.

Well anyway we can't ask either of her, can we? Since both of her, the living and the dead one, are now dead.

This being the case, only the living can ask themselves, and choose the word, each according to their own convictions, that they feel best expresses what she means to them.


rosie is roxy is roshan

I didn't mean the use of the word 'martyr' is irrelevant,

by rosie is roxy is roshan on

what I meant was that, depending on your orientation, symbol and martyr are two ways of saying that she represents a struggle. And that different folks will use symbol or martyr to convey their feeling about that struggle. If they're rooted, consciously or unconsciously, in the Karbala tradition, she SYMBOLIZES that condition of national martyrdom whether she was marching, standing by, or swimming.  Just because she was there and the documenation was so...karbala-esque.

So one word or the other (or neither) isn't really right or wrong, not that the semantics isn't a fascinating subject, but it is very nuanced and ultimately there won't be any right or wrong, as is the case with most semantic debates. Language is a living organism, a collective as well as individual, objective as well as subjective one, and resonances of words can be intangible and even infinite....

If Siamak or someone else doesn't see Neda even as a symbol of a legitimate struggle, let alone a 'martyr' in a psychically and historically deeply-rooted world picture of a martyred NATION, that would also be fine, from the persepctive of his worldview.

But since he categorically insists that all semantics except his here are stupid, far worse, actually, that those who use them are stupid, it IS irrelevant in a sense. You see, if someone ardently wishes to defend that she is a martyr to THEM, when he's ALREADY told them they're STUPID, then he knows he's getting stupid arguments. Because they're stupid people.

And that's a fundamental problem with the entire way this discourse is set up by Siamack. It's set up as a 'set up'.

Multiple Personality Disorder

To whom who think definition of the word martyr is a none issue,

by Multiple Personality Disorder on


Is that correct grammatically, "To whom who think definition of the word martyr is a none issue,"?  I don't know, but Saimack Baniameri should know, because he is published author, and as such he knows how to look up words, and he should know the power of his phrases and sentences.  At the core of this article he gives a definition for meaning of the word martyr, "Martyr by definition is a person who willingly and freely sacrifices her life for a cause that she passionately believes in."  But, it turns out that this is his definition and his alone.  It's a self-serving definition, a 'man daraavardi' definition.  And to give more credential to the point he wants to make he put those two specific and critical words in quotation marks, "willingly" and "freely".

Now I have consulted several dictionaries in English and one authoritative dictionary in Farsi and I can’t find anywhere the way he has his, some came close but none had it quite the way he has it, with the key words “willingly” and “freely”, as he has them.  So, I believe this is his own 'man daraavardi' definition.  He is published author, but he can not make up his own meaning for words.  This is not his interpretation of the meaning of the word “martyr”, because he clearly say, “Martyr by definition is..."

One can not escape the core of this article, which is the definition of the word "martyr".

Anahid Hojjati

Siamak, don't you think you should reply to comments?

by Anahid Hojjati on

After posting such a "janjali" article, I think Siamak should reply to some of the comments.