Neda Soltan has been named “Person of the Year” by the Times of London. For many of us, the haunting images of her death in Tehran on June 12, caught on video, may always be with us. I will never forget.
Neda has become a much larger symbol for freedom, in Iran and around the world – an innocent person caught between a crumbling government led by religious extremists and ever-growing protests by throngs of people demanding an end to tyranny.
“Even if a bullet goes through my heart it’s not important,” she told Caspian Makan, her fiancé. “What we’re fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world.”
In naming her Person of the Year, the Times of London wrote:
It was not hard to see why Ms Soltan so quickly became the face of the opposition, the Iranian equivalent of the young man who confronted China’s tanks during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations 20 years earlier. She was young and pretty, innocent, brave and modern. She wore make-up beneath her mandatory headscarf, jeans and trainers beneath her long, black coat, and liked to travel. She transcended the narrow confines of religion, nationality and ideology. She evoked almost universal empathy.
As the new year approaches, the so-called Green Movement appears to be gaining confidence and momentum. It no longer seems impossible that the regime could fall in 2010. If and when it does, Ms Soltan will be remembered as the pre-eminent martyr of the second Iranian revolution.
Neda has left a gentle footprint on the world …