Iran bans public mourning of Neda

Neda's fiance speaks to the press as pictures of her purported grave emerge on the Internet


Vincent Rossmeier
June 23, 2009 4:24PM (UTC)

UPDATE 2:20 p.m. ET:

  • More details have emerged about the background of Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old Iranian woman whose tragic death was caught on video and has become a symbol for the opposition in Iran. In a great piece in the Los Angeles Times, Neda's friends paint the portrait of a kind, music-loving young woman. She was the second of three children, born to a father employed by the government and a homemaker mother. Neda studied Islamic philosophy but then opted to pursue a career in tourism, as she had a profound affection for travel. Her friends and family purportedly warned her to avoid the protests on Saturday, fearful of the threat of a government crackdown on protesters issued by Ayatollah Khamenei last Friday. A friend recounts that Neda told her before the protest, "Don't worry. It's just one bullet and it's over." According to various sources in the article, Neda was shot on her way to the protest, when the car she was traveling in became caught in traffic and she got out to see what was going on ahead.
  • Iranian authorities are doing their best to make sure that Neda's death doesn't take on any more significance than it already has. They have banned a public wake or funeral, as well as any gathering in her honor. Officials even made her family take down the black banners on their home commemorating her death.
  • The Iranian government has also promised to teach what they call "rioters" a lesson.
  • Pictures of Neda's purported grave at Behesht Zahra cemetery have sprung up all over the Internet.
  • A Reuters piece says that Iranian TV is suggesting that Neda's death was staged:

    Iranian TV, quoting unnamed source, said Neda was not shot by a bullet used by Iranian security forces. It said filming of the scene, and its swift broadcast to foreign media, suggested the incident was planned.

  • Caspian Makan, a 37-year-old photojournalist in Tehran, has come forward to say that he was Neda's fiancé. He told the AP that the government's threats did not deter Neda from joining the protests. "She only ever said that she wanted one thing, she wanted democracy and freedom for the people of Iran," he said. In the video below, Makan blames the Basijis paramilitary for her death.

UPDATE 12:10 p.m. ET:

  • In the latest move in the escalating diplomatic battle between Britain and Iran, the U.K. has expelled two Iranian diplomats.
  • On Iranian official state TV, the government is showing interviews with individuals who it claims are detained protesters. Many of the protesters are blaming their participation in the unrest on the influence of the BBC and Voice of America.
  • Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, who seems to be an advocate of Ahmadinejad's government, expressed concern that people have been hurt in the violence and criticized the Interior Ministry for harming protesters.
  • Tehran Bureau has posted several accounts by Iranians who said they attempted to go to yesterday's protests in Haft-e Tir but were thwarted by police.
  • More on the Iranian soccer players who wore green armbands last week to show support for the protesters: Iran authorities have forced four players who sported the bands to retire from soccer according to a pro-government Iranian newspaper. Within Iran, the players are banned from the sport for life.
  • Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com continues his insightful coverage of the Iranian elections with another post on the statistical anomalies in the final vote counts. Silver thinks that the amount that the vote for Ahmadinejad varied within different precincts in the same city may suggest possible voting fraud.

MORNING UPDATE 9:10 a.m. ET:

  • The big news coming out of Iran Tuesday is that the country's powerful electoral body, the Guardian Council, has announced that it found "no major fraud" in its review of the presidential election and thus the election results will stand. Iran's official Press TV states that "Iran's Guardian Council rules out the possibility of nullifying the country's June 12 Presidential election, saying there has been no record of any major irregularity."
  • Following the Guardian Council's decision on the election, state-run media in Iran has confirmed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's swearing-in for a second term has been scheduled to occur between July 26 and Aug. 19.
  • Police were again stationed all over Tehran today, though there are no major reports of protests as of yet.
  • Possible video evidence of protests occurring far outside Tehran in the southern city of Kerman.
  • According to the news site Balatarin (h/t Guardian), the Iranian soccer players who showed solidarity with the protesters by wearing green armbands in a match last week with South Korea have had their passports confiscated.
  • Iranian authorities told the family of 19-year-old Kaveh Alipour, a young man who was shot in the head during Saturday's protests and later died, that they had to pay a $3,000 "bullet-fee" to have his body returned to them. By all accounts, Alipour was politically inactive and was tragically caught in the violent crossfire of the protest while returning home from an acting class in Tehran.
  • Amnesty International is demanding that Iran stop using the Basijis paramilitary force to combat protesters.
  • Iran has temporarily recalled its ambassador to the U.K.
  • The Guardian reports there may be a general strike occurring in Iran that includes 30 percent of the workforce.
  • Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the use of violence against civilians in Iran.
  • Iranian authorities are struggling to make sure Neda is not treated as a martyr. 

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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