Saturday, June 12, 2010

Commemorating Neda

It is one year since the Green movement in Iran saw their hopes for change shattered. No visage has been more emblematic of the disputed election results than that of 26 year old student Neda Agha-Soltan. Neda's murder by the Iranian Security Service on the streets of Tehran, during a peaceful rally, was captured on a grainy cell phone video. The footage was shown around the world in spite of all the best efforts by the Ahmadinejad regime to prevent its release.

In the US there is much talk of Iran's nuclear program and the grave risk that Iran poses to the security of the world. The actions of the Iranian regime dominate the US perceptions and have greatly colored our knowledge of the Iranian people. I have several Iranian friends whose sorrow over the situation in their (now former) country, and the perception of their country here in the West, is endless. My stepmother visited Iran not long before the elections. The sense of hope among the people was palpable, she said. I'm always chary of attributing any particular characteristics to an entire country. But Iran is a country steeped in rich cultural history and their population, two thirds of which is under age 30, lives in hope of greater freedom. We want Iran to change, and most assuredly, so does the youthful population there. They have struggled mightily to try to bring about that change. Millions demonstrated bravely on the streets of Tehran, which ran red with the blood of people just like Neda.

HBO sponsored Anthony Thomas's documentary on Neda and the Green Movement. Iran has, of course, sought to block access of the Iranian citizenry to this film. 

The Iranian government has sought to limit coverage of anything even slightly commemorative of the protests against the reelection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad one year ago. Reportedly Neda's family have been offered bribes by the Ahmadinejad administration for their silence on the matter of their daughter's death. The offers were rebuffed. Instead, Neda's parents bravely appeared in the HBO documentary. Even greater is the courage of Saeed Kamali Dehghan, the 24 year old Iranian journalist with steely determination and ice water in his veins. He photographed and interviewed and filmed completely under the radar of the Iranian government. He smuggled the footage out at incredible personal risk. As much as this is Anthony Thomas's film in direction, it is Saeed Kamali Dehghan who made the film possible at all. We owe it to the courage of all those who struggle against the Ahmadinejad regime to recognize their cause and that, just as in recent times in the US, a reckless leader does not define an entire country or its people.

The trailer of For Neda:

You can read more about the documentary here

If you believe that Iran is doing terrible things, frustrate the Ahmadinejad administration by watching this film, promoting it on your Facebook page and talking about it with your friends, colleagues and family. Don't let the voice of the Iranian people be silenced.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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