After attending the September 23rd protest outside the Federal Building in Westwood, a handful of local Iranian American human rights and community activists informed this journalist of their upcoming campaign to urge the Los Angeles City Council to officially name the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Street where the Federal Building is located, as “Neda Square”. The name will be in honor of the 27-year-old Iranian woman “Neda Agha-Soltan” whose murder by Iranian milita thugs was captured on video back in June and spread through the Internet via Youtube.com and Twitter. Local Iranian American activist have wanted to honor the slayen young woman by naming the street corner after since she has become a symbol of average Iranians struggle against the inhumanity of Iran’s current regime in the aftermath of this past summer’s sham elections in Iran.
On June 20, 2009, at around 6:30 p.m., Neda Agha-Soltan was sitting in her car in traffic in the city of Tehran. She was accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, and two others. The four were on their way to participate in the protests against the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. The car’s air conditioner was not working well, so she stopped her car some distance from the main protests and got out on foot to escape the heat. She was standing and observing the sporadic protests in the area when she was shot in the chest by what witnesses said were government militia snipers who were randomly shooting at protesters from roof tops. As captured on amateur video, she collapsed to the ground and was tended to for several seconds. Someone in the crowd around her shouted, “She has been shot! Someone, come and take her!” Her last words were, “I’m burning, I’m burning!” En route to Tehran’s Shariati hospital, she died but video of her violent and bloody death at the hands of the Iranian government snipers spread like wildfire on the Internet and on international news television. The world and Iranians living every where outraged at the complete disregard for life and brutality of Iran’s totalitarian regime. Finally the international community saw the sad reality and hell Iranian citizens have been enduring in their homeland at the hands of heartless murderers running their nation. Agha-Soltan has since become a martyr for many Iranians living in Iran and outside the country who seek regime change in Iran and ultimately a new free democracy in their country.
Agha-Soltan was an aspiring, underground Persian popular singer and musician, who was studying her craft through private voice and music lessons. She had studied the violin and had an as-yet-undelivered piano on order at the time of her death. Music of course is officially prohibited in Iran today that follows a strict fundamentalist Shiite Islamic theology, so her involvement in this career was a big risk. Interestingly those who knew her maintain that Agha-Soltan had not previously been very political – she had not supported any particular candidate in the 2009 Iran elections. On sad note, Iran’s evil regime denied her family a proper funeral for the 27-year-old innocent girl and issued a ban on collective prayers in mosques for Agha-Soltan in the aftermath of the incident.
What’s interesting about the new proposed location of “Neda Sqaure” is the fact that the corner where the Federal Building is located is a place that for the last 30 years has always been a locale for L.A.‘s Iranian Americans to protest the evils of the Iranian government. Never in the past 30 years has there been any call to name the street corner after anyone associated with the community’s protest efforts against the regime in Iran until now. It seems as if Agha-Soltan’s cold blooded murder at the hands of the Iranian regime’s thugs has not only touched a nerve among average Iranian citizens in Iran, but also among those living right here in Southern California.
Now what I ask President Obama and members of his administration is whether they really want to negotiate with a ruthless regime in Iran that totally disregards human life like this and cuts down those yearning for basic freedoms? What kind of message is the Obama Administration sending to those courageous Iranian protesters who are voicing their outrage with their government on the streets when the current Administration is sitting down with Iran’s regime to negotiate? The President of the United States called for “change” and “new hope” for better living in the U.S. and in other countries worldwide. Now that the average Iranian is stepping up and demanding for the same change in their government, they wonder whether the President of the United States is really behind them or just giving them lip service!