The Green Movement Keeps Neda’s Memory Alive

The Green Movement and its supporters are determined to keep Neda Agha-Soltan’s memory alive as a symbol of the ongoing struggle against the current Iranian government.

A Facebook page, “Neda Agha-Soltan for Time Magazine’s Person of the Year” has gained 454 members so far and encourages viewers to write Time Magazine at letters@time.com to build support for Neda to be recognized for her sacrificing her life while demonstrating against the government, and for the wider movement she has come to represent. Further support for Neda as Time’s person of the year has been  expressed by readers of Iranian.com.

In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, U.S. President Barack Obama made reference to Neda in offering to share his prize with others taking up causes for peace around the world :

…this award must be shared with everyone who strives for justice and dignity–for the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets…”

The Washington Post Editorial Board even weighed in, declaring Neda their preference for the Peace Prize.

Additionally, the Queen’s College at Oxford University in Britain have decided to establish a graduate scholarship in Neda’s honor–the “Neda Agha-Soltan Graduate Scholarship” for philosophy students of Iranian descent. The scholarship will promote academic freedom for Iranians who have faced censorship and persecution by an oppressive government.

Tonight, PBS will air A Death in Tehran at 9 pm ET in which “frontline investigates the controversial Iranian election and the death of one young protester seen around the world,” detailing the extent of the Iranian government’s violent post-election crackdown and the persistence of its opposition. Such recognition for the young woman whose life was taken violently before the eyes of the world help to keep Neda Agha-Soltan from “being just another casualty of oppression.”

Posted By Lloyd Chebaclo

    5 Responses to “The Green Movement Keeps Neda’s Memory Alive”

  1. Pirouz says:

    I understand that Neda’s death is a tragedy. But Nobel Peace Prize? Time’s Person of the Year? The symbol of the Green Movement?

    Would the same have been advocated for 19 year old Allison Krause, the college freshman who was shot dead by US National Guard troops while demonstrating against the US government at Kent State University in 1970?

    The answer is no. And the reason for that was the American anti-establishment movement of the late 1960’s and early 70’s had depth, leadership and a basic coherency. Inside Iran today, the Green Movement comes up sorely lacking in this regard.

    The need for a cult of Neda exposes the current fundamental weakness of the Green Movement. Furthermore, this popularized conception of Neda may actually be far more of a preoccupation here in the West than it is in Iran.

  2. Alireza says:

    Any mention of the fact that the Iranian government’s brutality (killing well over 15,000 of its own citizens since 1979–a very conservative estimate) inevitably elicits a response from Pirouz to the effect that the anti-establishment protests of the 1960s in the U.S. were also repressed, so why all this fuss and sympathy for opponents of the Iranian dictatorship? Or something meant to downplay, divert, defend or minimize the fact that the IRI has been a killing, raping, jailing, and censoring machine from its earliest days.

    I have a simple question for Pirouz: is there any period in recent U.S. history in which the U.S. government has executed many thousands of its own citizens for opposing the government? (And I say this as an individual who is completely opposed to the invasions and occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Indochina).

    I would love to hear Pirouz’s response.

  3. Iranian-American says:

    @Pirouz:
    I could not disagree more. Yes, a Noble Peace Prize. Yes, Time’s Person of the Year and yes, a symbol of the Green Movement.

    The ability of the Green Movement to bring to the world stage the killing of Neda is not a weakness, but a strength. At the end of the day, the world, the United States, the United Nations, none of them care about Iranian citizens and the crimes committed against them by this repressive government. If this repressive government abandoned its nuclear program, the world would ignore the killings, the rape and the arrests in Iran. Thus, highlighting the brutal nature of this regime by making a symbol of a young innocent girl that was killed simply for being outside at the wrong time is the best (and possibly only) way for the Green Movement to push the issue of human rights for the Iranian people. Human rights (not nuclear rights) are the most important rights being denied to the Iranian people. There is no clearer manifestation of this than the footage of Neda dying on the street of a gun shot wound to the chest.

    I am happy to see this movement. I am happy to see Neda become a symbol (especially after hearing her mother’s interview where she expressed appreciation to everyone who has been touched by her killing). So bring on the PBS special, create more scholarships in her name, put her face on the cover of Time and remind the world what the Iranian government really is.

  4. Iranian-American says:

    @Alireza
    I would also be interested in Pirouz’s response to your question. Clearly, the United States government does not routinely execute, rape and arrest its own citizens for opposing the government the way the Iranian government does. Otherwise, Pirouz would not so freely criticize the government of the country he lives in without risking his safety and his life. In Iran he would be arrested by a special “Internet crime unit” on the charge of “illegal advertising, insults and false statements”. Thus, I suspect he will divert by pointing to the United State’s actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, which many of us in the Iranian community oppose.

    I suspect Pirouz’s intentions are not to defend the Iranian government. I suspect he is (rightfully) agitated by the fact that the United State’s “gets away” with so much. That is fine, but the Iranian-American community should be very careful to avoid intentionally or unintentionally playing into the hands of the Iranian government which has for so long oppressed Iranian citizens.

    Fortunately, most of the Iranian-American community seems to be very much united in their opposition to the Iranian government’s treatment of our friends, family, brothers and sisters in Iran, and NIAC has thus far very carefully and accurately voiced that opposition.

  5. James Roth says:

    The death of Neda Soltan has become a symbol and rallying cry for human rights both in Iran and beyond its borders. Her legacy should be honored. Please visit our website a http://www.nedaspeaks.com and buy a t-shirt and encourage others to as well as a visable means of support for Neda’s legacy and human rights. 10% of the profits will be donated to her family and 90% to intrnational human rights causes.

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.

Sincerely,

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