Exactly two years ago, on 23 January 2010, a vigil was held for Neda Agha-Soltan who had been shot and killed on 20 June 2009 by an Iranian government militia when they cracked down on protests in Tehran. Because Neda’s death was captured on video and quickly broadcast around the world, she became the symbol of the millions of Iranians who dared to protest against the rigging of the elections in 2009 and against the lack of personal and political freedom in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
I was among the people who organised the vigil in London. We chose 23 January because it would have been Neda’s birthday. We chose to protest outside of the London offices of Press TV, Iran’s foreign TV channel because this channel had just broadcast an inflammatory piece in which they had blamed the BBC and the usual array of foreign intelligence services for her murder. (The UK’s media regulating body Ofcom has now finally revoked Press TV’s license.)
Here is some video footage from the event. I read a letter from Caspian Makan, Neda’s fiancé:
(For photos and a report about the vigil, please see Elcid Asaei’s page.)
If you want to learn more about Neda and the protests in Iran in 2009, I highly recommend to watch the documentary “For Neda” (in which I play a small part again).
As someone who has been to Iran twice and has a deep interest in the country’s future, I am disappointed that there is still no improvement at all in the political and human rights situation in Iran. The Iranian opposition is highly ineffective and – especially if compared with the opposition groups in the countries of the Arab Spring – far too timid, lame and more concerned about arguing with each other instead of toppling the brutal regime. It is sad to say, but there is absolutely nothing that makes me optimistic about Iran’s future.