A nation of Nedas: last summer in Iran

Truth can only be concealed for so long. Just ask Iranians. Their country was a technologically linked, governmental pool of blood and chaos last summer. As a peaceful protest took place, a sniper shot a young Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, in her chest during daylight.

HBO presented a documentary, “For Neda,” about modern Iran, Agha-Soltan’s life and her unsettling journey to martyrdom recently.

The documentary offered insight into oppressive, anti-woman politics in Iran. It juxtaposed the dangers of female self-expression with Neda’s continued choice to test the limits imposed on her life.

She was not presented as an unattainable ideal of heroic action. Rather, in telling Neda’s story, the everyday Iranian woman was uplifted and redeemed.

Protest footage showed other traditionally dressed Muslim women peacefully opposing their government.

Her murder was captured by cell phones and posted online. The video, which showed onlookers surrounding her wide-eyed lifeless form, represented an Iranian movement.

It was as if she died mistrustfully watching society.

That video, in addition to others, and tweets from irate Iranians, linked them with the international community.

As the Iranian government attempted to conceal Neda’s death and undoubtedly numerous other Nedas unknown to the public, Western journalists employed translators to read tweets from Iran.

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook kept the globe abreast of the happenings. While the motives of some news organizations are questioned, the story was told.

It was clear that countless Iranian people were dissatisfied with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election to the presidential seat.

It was clear that the American and British media were invested in telling the world of Iran’s dysfunction.

While Nedas aren’t as readily known here, Americans can’t afford to forget the corrupt election of former President George W. Bush in 2004.

Remember alleged voting machine glitches? Hanging chads? Votes “discovered” after then President Bush was in office?

We’re not too far removed from suspect decision makers.

When citizens are taught that their citizenship has a direct effect on their right to vote and right to choose their leadership, it is problematic to find out that people were pre-selected despite a lack of numerical support.

While the world will never be devoid of nepotism and fraud, it is important to keep these processes legitimate.

It is heart-breaking and empowering when citizens die pursuing justice. As people who remain and often benefit from their sacrifice, we are called to tell their stories and keep our eyes open.

That’s the least we can do for Neda.