Sunday, June 21, 2009


I've been watching it all unfold for the last several days.

At first, there was a glimmer of fascination, a sense of promise. A people rallying, a people banding together peacefully against injustice--I found myself drawn in, hopeful. I caught myself combing the news channels, nervously hoping for some new update. Even thought there were reports of danger, of violence, my belief did not dim. The silent resolve of those people in the streets, flare-ups aside, re-kindled a bit of faith in my fellow human beings. If perhaps I didn't pray, then perhaps I at least nurtured some secular equivalent thereof.

I have felt, stealing glimpses of the headlines from my work computer, a sense that something has been happening, that some aspect of the world I inhabited has been changing before my eyes. For the first time, I have witnessed true evidence that nonviolence can work, that despite the dangers, a people, in the face of cruelty, can still fight a war by means other than taking up arms.

It is not my war, and I understand that. I have no true stake in this hoped-for victory. I have also understood that such an effort could not be without costs. All the same though, I have combed the tickers, and followed the updates. And for the first time I have felt as though I, myself, was not ready to look those costs in the face.

Her name was Neda Agha Soltan. She was 26, and she was killed by a sniper while marching in protest with her father. In a culture where women are supposedly escorted by a male relative when outside of the home, she should have been safe. By the most literal interpretations of her faith, she was a Good Muslim woman. But that couldn't protect her from the most militant supporters of her own theocratic government.

She was shot, through the chest, in broad daylight, by a pro-government partisan firing from an apartment window. She was singled out, just a target in a crowd, and then shot center-mass, one-shot-one-kill, like an animal. Her final moments were recorded on the fly for all the world to witness, bleeding out in her father's arms while we uploaded it to YouTube. She has died every two minutes, over and over again, since the videos became public.

I wonder, why her? That's not the kind of shot one makes purely by accident. What drew the shooter's eye to her? Were there not plenty of others? When that gunman sighted in, what was it about her that made him decide she was the one? Why not her father, or some other protester? Was she just the clearest shot? Had she left herself exposed somehow? Or was she simply singled out for being there, for protesting a government's divine authority, as a woman?

Something's changed now. But I'm still not sure just what.

I hear that the video is available on YouTube, and like some Zapruder moment, some Fall of Saigon, some Tank Man snapshot, I understand that something in the world has changed. In these horrifying images, I sense a counterpoint, a harmony to what I first felt on the morning 9/11. Our world is changed by this, and I feel compelled to stand and bear witness. But I'm not sure that I can, or should.

I feel like I should see it for myself, that unless I do I can't truly understand. But I'm not sure I can permit myself to do so. It feels wrong, voyeuristic, peering into the last few moments of this woman's life. I wonder how she died, how she faced it, and if she knew. I wonder: was she afraid? Did she cry out? Was she able to take comfort from the proximity of her father, or were her final moments ones of panic and terror? Will all of it have been worth this? Did she at least die for something?

I'm not sure that I can ever truly know. And I'm not sure that I want to.


Twinky P* said...

I watched it, and cried for her dad, whose anguish was horrible to hear, as he told her not to be afraid. It looked like Neda was in shock, and didn't feel pain or fear. I think she was dead instantly, though her body didn't know it yet. Her eyes rolled around, but it reminded me of Terri Shaivo, though some say she looked around for the camera, I don't believe so. I guess it's sickeningly par for the course that the freepers are using her for their symbol - of what, I'm not sure, I don't think even they know...

But you're right, the sniper chose her for reasons of his own; maybe her scarf had slipped a bit, or she was too clear a target to resist. I have to say that the escalation of violence is a bummer, I was kinda pleased to hear that a sniper was caught in a building set on fire. Fuckers.

brisa said...

"She was shot, through the chest, in broad daylight, by a pro-government partisan firing from an apartment window" And the evidence you have to support this assertion as to whom fired that weapon is.....

"and she was killed by a sniper while marching in protest with her father" Video of the scene prior to the shooting shows a more or less chaotic milling around of Iranians, but no street protest or march. She had just gotten out of a car with an older male companion.

If you would take the time to watch, "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" (an independent documentary detailing the CIA backed attempted coup of Chavez is Venezuela in 2002), you would understand the the CIA uses snipers to further inflame protesters in an effort to further destabilize targeted regimes. The did it for a fact in Venezuela.

The US Congress has appropriated millions to aid destabilization efforts in Iran...surely millions more have been spent on black projects. Unfortunately, this poor woman's life was expendable in order to advance someone's agenda. I doubt the corporate news is revealing the truth about who's agenda that is.