Saturday, August 21, 2010

Awaiting Justice For Neda

On June 20, 2009, an Iranian woman by the name of Neda Agha-Soltan was participating in a protest against the blatantly-rigged Iranian Presidential election.

During that protester, Neda -- an unarmed woman -- was shot in the chest by a sniper and died within seconds.

A bystander filmed Neda's death on a celphone camera and smuggled the video out of the country. Everything since has been history.

A commentator in For Neda, an HBO documentary about Neda and about the state of women's rights in Iran, declared the Neda video to be the most successful viral video in history. Within hours of the video being published, it had been viewed by millions.

The video of Neda's passing went viral faster than the famous video of China's tank man at Tiananmen Square.

Yet, like the tank man, Neda shares a common tragic legacy. While each video drew attention to the true nature of oppression in the country they originated from, each has -- to date -- failed to force the regime in charge of each country to change its barbarous ways, or respect the human rights of its citizens.

Not only has the Iranian theocracy not changed its ways following the release of the Neda video, it targetted Zahra Soltani, a woman unfortunate enough to share the name "Neda" as a nickname, and eventually drove her into exile.

Neda's murderer has never been brought to justice. She is not alone.

On July 11, 2003, Zahra Kazemi, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen, was beaten and raped to death in an Iranian prison. Her crime was to have taken a picture of Evin prison, where Iran keeps its political prisoners.

Prior to Kazemi's murder -- which, like the killing of Neda, the Iranian regime attempted to cover up -- little public attention had been paid to the treatment of Iranian nationals in Iranian prisons.

Like Neda Agha-Soltan, there has never been justice for Zahra Kazemi. If the regime in Tehran has its way, there never will be.

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