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Neda Agha-Soltan, aged 26, transformed from living young woman to dead human and living icon, is now enmeshed in the distortions which death bequeaths.   For those on the side of “the Green Revolution” she is a potent symbol, an emblem of innocence and youth and all which that implies – hopes for a future, possibility, life, and this case life thwarted and broken, a metaphor for the youth of Iran.   Conversely, for the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (for clearly that is what it is, with “the President” merely the visible figure-head of other powers), she is apparently a dire threat.  So the government of Iran has issued two scenarios to explain Neda’s demise:  that she was shot by a sniper of the “terrorist opposition” forces, precisely to create a martyr and symbol, or, alternately, that her killing was arranged by a British documentarian, Jon Leyne, so as to spice up a film he was making.   That either of these explanations stretches credibility to the limit seems not to bother the propaganda arm of the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad gang, or, more exactly, it shows just how bothered they really are.  One more lie lathered on the rest, the delusions of power gone mad.  Thinking they could crudely jiggle the vote count to secure a giant mandate against the evidence of real opposition, they opened a Pandora’s Box, and now must follow its logic.  The consequence will be fatal, the usual trajectory of despots, a history from which they never seem to learn.

From UK Guardian:

Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.

“We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave. […]

Amid scenes of grief in the Soltan household with her father and mother screaming, neighbours not only from their building but from others in the area streamed out to protest at her death. But the police moved in quickly to quell any public displays of grief. They arrived as soon as they found out that a friend of Soltan had come to the family flat.

In accordance with Persian tradition, the family had put up a mourning announcement and attached a black banner to the building.

But the police took them down, refusing to allow the family to show any signs of mourning. The next day they were ordered to move out. Since then, neighbours have received suspicious calls warning them not to discuss her death with anyone and not to make any protest.

A tearful middle-aged woman who was an immediate neighbour said her family had not slept for days because of the oppressive presence of the Basij militia, out in force in the area harassing people since Soltan’s death.

Whether or not, as the Iranian government has asserted (and they have good historical grounds to do so), the CIA or the Soros Foundation or other such NGO’s operating at the behest of dubious interests had a hand in fomenting the present unrest, it is clear that a meaningful sector of Iran was interested in some change in their social arrangments;  in showing themselves  and their interests they provoked their government to showing its real hand and nature.  Iran is a police-state; like most police-states using brute physical force, a monopoly of arms and the major propaganda systems, and control of the economy, to consolidate power for a limited self-interested selection of people.  In this case the major players are apparently the Revolutionary Guard, formed by the clerics during the Revolution in 1979,  and which is the dominant owner of production and its wealth; the military is a power unto itself, and the Shia clerics another.  Among them, they – like the oligarchy which runs the USA – own and control almost everything in Iran.   In the minuet of forces which are used to keep such systems functioning, it seems the Iranian authorities badly overplayed their hand, and looking for the appearance of a massive public endorsement and mandate for their policies, they insulted a significant sector of the populace sufficiently to produce a reaction toxic enough to have set them back from whatever plans they had, and even to in due time induce their own collapse.   The post-US illegal invasion of Iraq chatter of Iran’s consolidation of power and influence in the middle-east has gone up in smoke.   Iran will be fortunate to stumble along at all, riven with internal contradictions and social disquiet until in due time the present controllers are overthrown by their own people.  In the poetics of politics, Neda will be named as the spiritual source, however incidental and accidental her death.



  1. “Iran will be fortunate to stumble along at all, riven with internal contradictions and social disquiet until in due time the present controllers are overthrown by their own people. In the poetics of politics, Neda will be named as the spiritual source, however incidental and accidental her death.”

    I have a few Iranian friends and they are quite divided on the present crises. They all agree that Iran walks on the shoulders of village politics. That is its back-end comes not from urban settlements but villages which make up upto 80 percent of their present population.
    Any hope of change can only arrive from there, the massive Shia belt. I think Neda and others would be forgotten in time cause I doubt her death matters or relates in any way symbolically or symbioticly to the rural populace for whom she remains an alien.

    The only thing that speaks to the Rural mindset is the fear of a Mongolian meltdown, even today the thought of it sends shivers down their spine.
    And who presently comes close to that Ideal other than America.
    I think a simulation of American Invasion would have them kill their own clerics and hand them in the tubs filled with honey.

    • Hi Rajiv
      A quick check on Wikipedia says the Iranian population is 65-70 million, depending on who is counting; of those 30-35 percent live in bigger cities; then the population is fragmented with, for example, 7% being Kurds who wish to break away and have a Kurdish nation, and other minorities who are similarly not so happy with the status quo. Given these I’d suspect the problems for the governing system is pretty difficult. At the least one might have as in a sense has occurred in the US, an urban/rural conflict breaking the country into elementally opposed segments. In such a case it makes it harder to govern. We’ll have to wait and see. From what I read, Iranian/Shia culture highly prizes martyrs, and if she was not much more, Neda qualifies on that account.

  2. Hi Jon, yes you are right about counts. about the split that you speak, I see this in India also.

    Naipaul made this a centrepiece of his book “Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions among the Converted Peoples” and almost paraphrases you about the”urban/rural conflict breaking the country into elementally opposed segments”
    He explores at one place what happens when this man takes his wife (an unban women) to his village for the first time and how the split becomes apparent as he steps into his village and what this stepping expects of her.

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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