June 27, 2009
What kind of people live in the Arab World?
Do they actually believe whatever they hear about the US?
The Iranian ambassador to Mexico is claiming that the CIA shot NEDA AGHA-SOLTAN, the innocent 26 y/o Iranian woman whose murder was captured on cellphone video.
I don’t know how much you know about Neda Agha-Soltan. She was a beautiful woman (as you can see from her picture), who was shot in the chest while she stood observing a demonstration. She was not chanting or waving her arms or in any way calling attention to herself. She was a complete innocent who was murdered for no reason.
She is seen on video [not graphic] moments before her death, walking along the street in the back of a demonstration. She was accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, who said they had gotten stuck in traffic and had gotten out of the cab to see what was going on. That’s it. They hadn’t even been standing there very long.
From the LA TIMES:
PANAHI: She wanted to show with her presence that ‘I’m here. I also voted. And my vote wasn’t counted.’ It was a very peaceful act of protest, without any violence.
Her friend urged her not to go and Neda was quoted as saying – eerily:
NEDA: Don’t worry. It‘s just one bullet and its over.
This cellphone video documents Neda’s murder. It is graphic and very difficult to watch. I recommend you DO NOT watch it – her eyes will never leave you. It’s not worth simple curiosity. Trust me. And it is not pixilated.
The footage shows Neda immediately after she is shot in the chest. She falls backward and the man who had been accompanying her and a bystander – who happened to be a doctor – help her to the ground and then attempt to staunch the massive bleeding from her chest wound. The doctor said the wound was below her throat and not in her head. The cellphone user runs from the angle of her feet around to her face — taking seconds — and catches her final moments. She looks at the cellphone and then blood erupts from her mouth and nose. She dies.
Less than 30 seconds after she was shot – she is dead.
Her last words according to PANAHI: “I am burning.”
Shot for absolutely no reason by a complete savage who knew he was shooting a woman – a woman who was doing nothing but standing there.
It is an absolutely shocking video that bears witness to the indiscriminate violence taking place. The utter savagery. It is perfectly clear she was in the periphery. A single shot to her chest could not have been random. You don’t need to watch the video – you just have to know that she was absolutely positively shot through the chest and her face and head were completely intact.
The doctor who tried to help Neda, Dr Arash Hejazi was interviewed by the BBC. He is seen on the cellphone video kneeling to her left with his hands pressed against the wound. He looks right at the cellphone so there is on doubt it is him. He mentions the exact street location where it took place and the manner in which he relates the murder and the aftermath leaves no doubt as to its veracity.
He described an entrance wound to the anterior chest right below the throat, which he thinks hit her aorta. He said there was no exit wound in the back – meaning she was shot from the front – not the back like the Iranian ambassador to Mexico, who is trying to pin it on the CIA, said.
Somebody was looking at her when he shot her.
There could not have been any doubt that he was shooting a woman.
A woman who was doing nothing but standing.
Dr Hejazi was a GP in Iran but now runs a publishing house in England. He also is a published author and former journalist and is known in Iran. Here is his video of his interview from the BBC. The horror of it is still in his face. I completed the partial transcript they provided to include more of his description of the wound and the fact that he doesn’t think an autopsy was even performed.
HEJAZI: I was there with some friends because we had heard that there were some protests and we decided to go and take a look.
Anti-riot police were coming by motorcycles towards the crowd….All of a sudden everything turned crazy, because the anti-riot police threw teargas on people and the motorcycles started rushing towards people.
He ran down an alley and came out at an intersection where Neda and Punahi happened to be standing.
We ran to an intersection and people were just standing. They didn’t know what to do…either to scatter, to leave or to wait and see what happens.
We heard a gunshot. Neda was standing one meter away from me. I didn’t know her – she was just one other person in the crowd.
I turned back and I saw blood gushing out of Neda’s chest. She was in a shocked situation, just looking at her chest. Then she lost her control.
We ran towards her and lay her on the ground. I bent over her and saw the bullet wound then, which was right in the chest, and blood gushing out. My experience says that it is the aorta and the lung as well….Her aorta and her lung were hit by the bullet.
And I don’t know – as far as I know never an autopsy was performed on her – she was buried so fast afterwards.
I can verify that the bullet came from in front and it didn’t leave from her back. So there were no bullet wounds – exit points from the back.
I have never seen such a thing, because the bullet, it seemed to have blasted inside her chest – that blood – and later on, blood exiting from her mouth and nose. I had the impression that it had hit the lung as well. Her blood was draining out of her body, and I was just putting pressure on the wound to try to stop the bleeding, which wasn’t successful, unfortunately, and she died in less than one minute. She was drained out of her blood.
He was asked where the shot came from.
At first he thought it might have come from a rooftop but then he saw that bystanders had caught a man on a motorcycle. He had come from the other direction – in a position to shoot Neda in the chest – and he was hiding in the corner.
The crowd yelled: “We caught him. We caught him.”
While they non-violently disarmed him, the man spontaneously shouted: “I didn’t want to kill her. I didn’t want to kill her.”
The bystanders didn’t know what to do with him. He heard someone said: “Don’t harm him – we are not killers – like them.”
They looked at his identity papers – which did indeed identify him as Basij - and they took pictures of him. They were afraid to turn him over to the police because the police would have just released him and they would have identified themselves. So they kept his papers and let him go.
It says a great deal that the protesters showed such restraint. That there wasn’t the mob mentality or any eye for an eye even though they had just witnessed a beautiful innocent young woman murdered for absolutely no reason. They let the man who they were certain killed Neda go without laying a hand on him.
That is a testament to her death as well.
A stranger passing by in a car immediately took Neda to the hospital – allegedly getting lost on the way. All to no avail. It’s clear even from the video that she was dead. Her friend went with her so he was not around when the bystanders located the Basij murderer. He was forced to come forward and say he didn’t see any gunman, implying it was a protester but he wasn’t there.
Dr Hejazi went inside to his office and “washed his hands compulsively”. As the shock wore off he said he became overwhelmed with fear – the realization of how close he was standing to Neda and how easily it could have been him. Then he began to feel guilty for not being able to save her life and for having such fears about his own safety when she was dead and he was still alive. This is a detail that even the best storyteller couldn’t come up with.
He said he didn’t sleep for three nights.
The look in her eyes – she didn’t have time to say anything. She just had this look in her eyes – that what has happened? Why has this happened? A very innocent look. I was overwhelmed.
He went to his elderly parent’s house for the night. He didn’t want to say anything but the video was shown on TV and he said that was him.
I can’t explain. It’s indescribable. I don’t want anyone to face this situation in their life. Nobody is that guilty to see such a thing.
You have to see it to believe what I’m saying.
How does he feel that he is tied to Neda’s death?
I feel responsible. The most important thing I’m putting myself in jeopardy now — talking to you. And it was a hard – it was a tough decision to make to come out and talk about it. But it was responsible.
She died for a cause. The cause is not a simple cause…She was fighting for basic rights – human’s basic rights. She wanted her vote to be counted. She wanted to be free. The freedom of assembly, which is even mentioned in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: freedom of assembly, freedom of protesting, freedom of speech, which is compromised now.
I don’t want her blood to have been shed in vain.
She died on the street to say something.
The fact that the image has traveled so fast around the world – it means something.
It means that there’s a message there.
Iranian authorities are saying it was a protester who did it. Do you believe that’s a possibility at all?
I don’t know who can says such a thing. But as an eyewitness during the past 11 days in Iran – I have never seen any of the protesters carrying a gun – carrying nothing – not even a knife. Nothing. They just had their hands and their voice. That is what they did.
He’s incredulous. And angry.
Yes I heard that. It’s terrible. I don’t know why these people are trying to cover a crime. This a crime. It wasn’t the war. This wasn’t the war. This wasn’t that someone would get killed. This is not collateral damage. This is a crime because protesters, unarmed people, civilians were on the street asking for something.
She was shot, without even knowing why…and who…by what guilt.
I believe the government should prosecute this thing.
He said the government wouldn’t let her family give Neda a proper burial or allow her to be mourned in the mosque. People then started leaving flowers and gathering at the sight of her murder. They were hit by the Basij and run off and the flowers covered with rubbish.
He can’t understand what was happening. That the violence was so out of proportion.
Something has gone wrong…They were protesters to the result, and that could be handled very wisely. Not by shooting them. Not by hitting them. Not by arresting everybody who was on the streets trying to protest.
What do we mean when we say protest?
And in the last few days before that Saturday, people weren’t even shouting.
They were having these silent rallies. They weren’t even shouting, they weren’t even using that small tool they had.
They were just walking in the streets…not saying anything – just holding their hands up and some signs. Nothing.
Is that the right way to handle the situation, and then deny it?
I can’t explain it - I don’t understand why would the State TV say that – but nobody believes that. Nobody can believe that.
Can he envisage going back to Iran?
Not now. Not in this situation. No, I have been identified. I can’t explain. You have to be in the system to understand it. They are going to denounce what I’m saying afterwards. They’re going to put so many things on me after this.
But he says people know him in Iran and that they would believe him.
I want the world to know that I am here on my own will, trying to testify on what I had to bear witness [to], and why I’m jeopardizing my situation is just the innocent look in her eyes before she died.
Nobody would believe she was shot by a protester.
She was shot from [the] front – not from behind. She was shot by a Besij member, which are the armed people.
Yes, the anti-riot police never used firing guns. They never – they just used anti-riot tools and teargas.
But the Basij is armed — it’s an armed force. And they don’t follow the rules that are set for the police.
The police is not shooting people. These people [the Basij] are.
In the next post, Wolf Blitzer interviews the Iranian ambassador to Mexico, who speaks through an interpreter. Even still his words are pure fiction when compared to Dr Hejazi’s hands-on eyewitness account, who was there for a reason. The odds of a doctor [let alone a doctor who is a writer and a previous journalist and presently living in the UK] being within a few feet of a senseless shooting is astronomical – especially since he had just run down an alley.
Neda’s wound was catastrophic. She would have died had she been shot in the ER. He was there as a doctor to provide unimpeachable testimony. Testimony from a native Iranian — who is known there, who will be believed there, who was able to get out to immediately tell his story and who owns a publishing house of some sort to make sure that it never gets forgotten.