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What we know of Neda Soltan, the woman shot Saturday in Iran

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There is now some information about her:

Some sources mistakenly identified her as a 16 year old. She was actually 26 years old.[15][11] She is almost uniformly identified as having been a university student.[15] The Guardian has stated that Neda worked part-time at a travel agency.[16]

The Los Angeles Times reported[11] June 23, 2009: “The second of three children, she studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran’s Azad University until deciding to pursue a career in tourism. She took private classes to become a tour guide, including Turkish-language courses, friends said, hoping to someday lead groups of Iranians on trips abroad. Travel was her passion, and with her friends she saved up enough money for package tours to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand.

While she was not an activist, she was interested in the protests.

‘Neda, don’t go’

Her parents and others told her it would be dangerous to go to Saturday’s march, said Golshad.

On Friday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had warned in his weekly sermon that demonstrators would be responsible for any violence that broke out. Even Golshad stayed away. At 3:30 p.m., the two friends spoke.

“I told her, ‘Neda, don’t go,’ ” she recalled, heaving with sobs.

But Agha-Soltan was as stubborn as she was honest, Golshad said.

“She said, ‘Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and its over.’ “

Because of the heat, she had gotten out of the car only momentarily when she was shot:

On June 20, 2009, Neda, a philosophy student[10], was sitting in her car in traffic on Kargar Avenue in the city of Tehran[5], near the Amir-Abad area, accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi.[11][12] They were on their way to attend a march in protest of the issues surrounding the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Having gotten out of the car because of the excessive heat, she was allegedly targeted and shot in the chest by plainclothes Basij paramilitaries who were attempting to subdue the protesters.[13] Neda’s last words were:

I’m burning, I’m burning![11]

Even though Basiji gunmen had no reason to single her out, her friends and family are convinced she was targeted as she stood there:

Her fiance, Caspian Makan, told BBC Persian TV about the circumstances of Neda’s death.

“She was near the area, a few streets away, from where the main protests were taking place, near the Amir-Abad area. She was with her music teacher, sitting in a car and stuck in traffic.

She was feeling very tired and very hot. She got out of the car for just for a few minutes.

And that’s when it all happened.

That’s when she was shot dead. Eyewitnesses and video footage of the shooting clearly show that probably Basij paramilitaries in civilian clothing deliberately targeted her. Eyewitnesses said they clearly targeted her and she was shot in the chest.

She passed away within a few minutes. People tried to take her to the nearest hospital, the Shariati hospital. But it was too late.

We worked so hard to get the authorities to release her body. She was taken to a morgue outside Tehran. The officials from the morgue asked if they could use parts of her corpse for body transplants for medical patients.

They didn’t specify what exactly they intended to do. Her family agreed because they wanted to bury her as soon as possible.

We buried her in the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in southern Tehran. They asked us to bury her in this section where it seemed the authorities had set aside spaces for graves for those killed during the violent clashes in Tehran last week.

On Monday afternoon, we had planned to hold a memorial service at the mosque.

But the authorities there and the paramilitary group, the Basij, wouldn’t allow it because they were worried it would attract unwanted attention and they didn’t want anymore trouble.

The authorities are aware that everybody in Iran and throughout the whole world knows about her story. So that’s why they didn’t want a memorial service. They were afraid that lots people could turn up at the event.

So as things stand now, we are not allowed to hold any gatherings to remember Neda.”

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