Neda : An Iranian Martyr [BBC Documentary]


Where is my vote?: The Iranian Green Movement, Neda, and Social Media


On June 13, 2009, huge demonstrations erupted on the streets of Tehran, resulting in the biggest unrest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  The cause was very clear: injustice resulting from the 2009  Iranian presidential elections declaring incumbent Ahmadinejad victorious by a two-thirds majority.  There were accounts of widespread rigging at poll offices by government Basijis or militia.  Mobile video footage of these incidents substantiate such suspicions.

By June 15, the demonstrations grew from a few hundred people to hundreds of thousands spurred by a rally organized by Mir-Hossain Mousavi in his first public appearance after the election.  It was widely assumed by the protestors that Mousavi, a Reformist, had been robbed of the presidency.  Many of the Iranian protestors consisted of the disillusioned youth, who in turn account for the majority of the Iranian population.  The protestors were not necessarily supporters of Mousavi, but rather opposed the rule of Ahmadinejad and the Ultra-Conservative.  They had viewed the election as a sham and a complete betrayal of their natural right to vote.

Fearing further escalation, the government acted quickly to crush the demonstrations by arresting, brutally beating, and killing peaceful protestors.  Those suspected of laying the foundations of the protests were also arrested.  As foreign journalists were arrested and detained for fermenting opposition, social media such as Facebook and Twitter transmitted images of human rights violations across the world.  A green Facebook page gathered information about the innocent people killed, and collected videos of murder scenes during the revolts.  Ahmadinejad and the government denied everything as fabrications of the West and the Zionist regime.  Government officials and the Basijis moved into private residences and took away satellite dishes, censored the internet using various filters, and even monitored mobile phone conversations with the assistance of Nokia Siemens Networks.

On June 20, 2009, at around 6:30 p.m., Nedā Āghā-Soltān, an innocent 26 year old female student was shot in the chest while stopping on her way to participate in the protests.  Images of Neda’s brutal death were captured by amateur mobile video, and immediately made its way across the world through social media and the internet.  Neda became an instant martyr, and her bleeding image became the symbol of the Iranian Green Movement.  An outpouring of outrage, sorrow, and sympathy resulted throughout the world.  Placards were designed with the slogan “We are Neda!”  U2, Roger Waters, and many other artists paid tributes to Neda and the innocent killed during their concerts.  Neda’s image quickly became an international icon just like the student in front of the tank on Tiananmen Square.

Viva ICT Revolucion! An Introduction

“A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution.”

-Vladimir Lenin

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall.”

– Che Guevara

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

― Jim Morrison

“It’s the well-behaved children … that make the most formidable revolutionaries. They don’t say a word, they don’t hide under the table, they eat only one piece of chocolate at a time. But later on they make society pay dearly.”

-Jean-Paul Sartre, Dirty Hands

Revolutions of many scales and forms have occurred throughout the course of human history and across the globe.   As described by Jim Morrison and Che Guevara, revolution requires significant transformation.  Renowned international political economist Susan Strange described transformation in States and Markets (1998) as shifts in power structures, specifically that of production, security, finance and knowledge.

Through Strange’s theoretical framework, the evolution of Information Communications Technology (ICT) can be seen as a major shift in the knowledge structure.  As people are exposed to events and ideas, their perspective is often altered.  ICT has evolved to fill the information vacuum that once existed in regions, and has facilitated the communication of ideas.

With access to the internet, satellite dishes, and mobile phones, people can no longer be shut off from reality.  Niccolò Machiavelli once suggested that the maintenance of ignorance can prolong tyrannical rule.  Social media has also greatly enhanced the world wide communities’ knowledge base, and has shifted the power structure in favor of the traditionally “weak.”