Election outrage that turned Neda into a political protester

They banned memorial services, told friends not to speak publicly, and made her family tear down mourning banners from the front of their house. But Iran's authorities were unable to stifle the story of a young woman called Neda, who was shot and killed as she arrived at a demonstration in central Tehran on Saturday.

Friends of the protester, who became an overnight figurehead of the popular uprising after shaky video footage emerged of her lying in the street with blood gushing from a bullet wound in her chest, defied the orders of their government tell the world about her short life and tragic death.

She was called Neda Angha-Soltan, they revealed, aged 26, a graduate of Tehran's Azad University, with a passion for music and travel. She recently returned from a beach holiday in Turkey and was training to become a tourist guide, hoping one day to lead groups of Iranian holidaymakers on visits overseas. Hamad Panahi, Neda's music teacher, who witnessed her death and was among mourners at her family home at the weekend, told the Los Angeles Times she was killed after agreeing to accompany him and two other friends to a protest on Saturday evening in the city's Freedom Square. Their car had become stuck in traffic on Karegar Street, near to the demonstration, at around 6.30pm. They jumped out of the vehicle to stretch their legs, and were trying to see what was going on, when he heard a gunshot. Soon afterwards, Panahi realised that Neda had suddenly slumped to the ground. "We got out and stood to watch, and without her throwing a rock or anything they shot her," he recalled. "It was just one bullet." Her final words were: "I'm burning, I'm burning!"

Like many supporters of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, she came from a middle-class background: the second of three children of a civil servant. She had never previously been politically active, but began attending mass protests because she was outraged by the election results. "She was a person full of joy," said Panahi. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted."

Defending his decision to ignore the Islamic regime's demands for a news blackout on Neda's death, he said: "This is a crime against humanity... When they kill an innocent child, this is not justice. This is not religion. And I'm certain that the one who shot her will not get a pass from God."

Meanwhile, at a news conference in Washington, President Obama described footage of the incident as "heartbreaking", adding: "While this loss is raw and painful, we also know this: those who stand up for justice are always on the right side of history."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot