Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Footage of Iranian woman's death ‘heartbreaking’

Neda Agha-Soltan: When a sniper shot her dead on Saturday the uprising got its martyr
Neda Agha-Soltan: When a sniper shot her dead on Saturday the uprising got its martyr
Neda Agha-Soltan left her car 'just for a few minutes'. The footage of her shooting has been transmitted around the world
Leading reformist candidate in the forthcoming Iranian presidential elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi, speaks during a meeting with professors at Tehran university in Tehran, Thursday May 7, 2009. Mousavi, an influential former prime minister, is the leading challenger to the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the June 12 presidential elections. (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)
Iranian supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi chased by Iranian riot-police and militia forces during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Iranian youth opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the streets Sunday, setting, trash dumpsters and tires on fire, in a second day of clashes triggered by voter fraud claims.(AP Photo)
Iranian students, supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi at the main entrance of Tehran university during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Iranian youth opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the streets Sunday, setting trash dumpsters and tires on fire, in a second day of clashes triggered by voter fraud claims. (AP Photo)
** ALTERNATIVE CROP TO XHS138 **An Iranian supporter of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is beaten by government security members as female opposition supporter comes to his aid during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Iranian youth opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad take to the streets Sunday, setting trash dumpsters and tires on fire, in a second day of clashes triggered by voter fraud claims.(AP Photo)
Iranian supporters of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi are followed by Iranian riot-police in front of Tehran university during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Iranian youth opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took to the streets Sunday, setting trash dumpsters and tires on fire, in a second day of clashes triggered by voter fraud claims. (AP Photo)
Iranian supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi gather on the streets protesting the declared results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Iranian riot police have clashed with supporters of the main opposition candidate in disputed presidential elections.(AP photo)
Iranian supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi gather on the streets protesting the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Iranian riot police have clashed with supporters of the main opposition candidate in disputed presidential elections.(AP photo)
** ALTERNATE CROP ** Iranian supporter of defeated presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is beaten by government security members during riots in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 14, 2009. Iranian youth opposed to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad take to the streets Sunday, setting trash dumpsters and tires on fire, in a second day of clashes triggered by voter fraud claims. (AP Photo)
Supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, some wearing green as the color of the party, gather on the streets protesting the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Iranian riot police have clashed with supporters of the main opposition candidate in disputed presidential elections. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
An Iranian girl looks back as supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi fight running battles using stones and petrol bombs against police, as they protest the results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Police tried to suppress demonstrators who took to the streets to protest the declared results of recent presidential elections. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Iranian riot police clear away the remains of burning debris as supporters of reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi fought running battles using stones and petrol bombs against police, protesting the declared results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Supporters of Iranian reformist presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi being chased by security forces as they pass by a burning bus on the streets of Tehran, protesting the declared results of the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Iranian riot police have clashed with supporters of the main opposition candidate in disputed presidential elections.(AP photo)
A supporter of Iranian reformist presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, holds a piece of stone and with his covered his face with green scarf symbolizing his party's color as the others burn a trash bin in Tehran, Saturday, June 13, 2009. Supporters of the main election challenger to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with police and set up barricades of burning tires Saturday as authorities claimed the hard-line president was re-elected in a landslide. The rival candidate said the vote was tainted by widespread fraud and his followers responded with the most serious unrest in the capital in a decade. (AP Photo)
A supporter of main challenger and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, standing next to a poster of him, whistles as she films the event with her mobile phone, amidst a festive atmosphere at an election rally at the Heidarnia stadium in Tehran, Iran, Tuesday, June 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Female supporters of the leading reformist Iranian presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, hold green balloons, the symbolic color of Mousavi's campaign, in an electoral campaign gathering in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 8, 2009. Mousavi is leading reformist challenger to the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the Iranian presidential race on June 12. (AP Photo / Vahid Salemi)
Female supporters of the leading reformist Iranian presidential candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, hold green balloons, the symbolic color of Mousavi's campaign, in an electoral campaign gathering in downtown Tehran, Iran, Monday, June 8, 2009. Mousavi is leading reformist challenger to the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the Iranian presidential race on June 12. (AP Photo / Vahid Salemi)
A supporter of main challenger and reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, wearing a mask of him, flashes the victory sign amongst the crowds at a night-time street rally just days before the elections, in the Sadatabad district of northern Tehran, Iran, in the early hours of Tuesday, June 9, 2009. With Farsi hip-hop and techno music blaring from car speakers and young men and women dancing in the streets, election fever in Tehran is more like a party than a protest but the festive atmosphere of these nightly street rallies have a serious undertone. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
A volunteer carries posters of reformist candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi, at one of his election offices in Tehran, Monday, June 8, 2009. Iran's presidential campaign, now in its final week, has reached a level of passion and acrimony no one remembers to have occured in Iranian history. Reformists, who seek an easing of social and political restrictions at home and better ties with the West, see a strong opportunity to unseat President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has become increasingly unpopular because of Iran's economic woes. Critics also say he has needlessly enflamed world anger at Iran with his statements calling U.N. resolutions "worthless papers" and casting doubt on the Holocaust.(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Supporters of leading reformist candidate in upcoming Iranian presidential elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi, unseen, leave teh sport hall after attended in his election campaign rally in Tehran Sunday May 31, 2009. Mousavi, is a former Prime Minister, and a main challenger of the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for June 12 presidential elections.(AP photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian)

They banned memorial services and told friends not to speak publicly, but Iran's authorities were unable to stifle the story of a young woman called Neda, who was killed as she arrived at a protest in central Tehran on Saturday.

Film taken on a shaky mobile phone turned the 20-something protester into an overnight figurehead of the popular uprising, after it showed her bleeding to death. She had apparently been cut down by a rooftop sniper loyal to the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Yesterday, in defiance of their government, friends and family of the woman managed to tell the world about her short life, and tragic death.

Neda Agha-Soltan was a 26-year-old graduate of Tehran's Azad University, with a passion for music and travel.

Never previously politically active, she began attending mass protests because of the recent election results.

Hamad Pahani, a close companion who witnessed her death, told the Los Angeles Times that she was killed after agreeing to accompany him and two other friends to a protest on Saturday evening in the city's Freedom Square.

The group's car had become stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, near to the demonstration, at about 6.30pm. They jumped out of the vehicle to stretch their legs when Mr Pahani heard a gunshot.

Soon afterwards, he realised that Neda had fallen to the ground.

“We got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her,” he said. Mr Pahani told the newspaper that her final words were: “I'm burning, I'm burning.”

US President Barack Obama described footage of the incident as “heartbreaking”.

“We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets,” he said. “While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history.”

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph