Neda’s Mother Appeals to the International Community
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Neda Agha Soltan’s mother, Hajar Rostami, appealed to international human rights organizations and the international court in The Hague to help prosecute her daughter’s murderer.
More than one year after Neda Agha Soltan’s shocking death before the eyes of the world, her mother is seeking justice. Rostami told the Campaign that the family’s efforts to find her daughter’s murderer have been fruitless. “I have nothing further to tell the government. I have kept my silence all this time. Now I want the world to help me find Neda’s murderer. I have lost my child and my life has been turned upside down. Every time I return from her grave site, it feels as though my daughter only just died and we just buried her,” she told the Campaign.
Rostami told the Campaign that Iranian authorities have not put any pressure on her after her daughter’s death. However, she complained about the widespread efforts to distort the truth about her daughter’s death. She referred to the “documentaries” broadcast by the state-controlled Television, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), and statements made by some Iranian authorities, such as Friday Prayer leaders and specifically, statements made by Ezzatollah Zarghami, director of the IRIB.
“I didn’t see the film, I only heard about it. I don’t want to see it! I have no opinions about it. They have broadcast three films and each time contradicted their earlier claims. As Neda’s mother, as far as I know, she went out to protest and was killed by their forces; there is no other story,” said Rostami.
“They want to say that this is a free country, that everyone can express their opinions, and that there is complete freedom in Iran. This is not true at all,” she said about the goals such programs pursue. The Campaign asked Rostami whether she believes the contents of the IRIB documentaries. “No one believes these lies, neither Iranian people nor those abroad. They said her murderer was a woman. What had Neda done for a woman to kill her? I know who the murderer is, but government agents don’t accept it,” she said.
Rostami emphasized that she has maintained silence each time state television made another documentary. “They killed Neda in broad daylight. I filed a complaint, but so far I haven’t gotten very far. Now you want me to file a suit about the documentary film?” she said. She told the Campaign that when she sees this treatment, the only thing that is a solace to her is to see worldwide support. “They said ‘we didn’t make the film which showed Neda had committed suicide.’ I said ‘well, your broadcasting organization aired it! How can you say you didn’t know about it?!’ They said ‘we are going to make a film and show who killed Neda.’ In that film, they introduced the murderer as a woman. When I objected to the film that claimed Neda had committed suicide they said, ‘Voice your objections in the newspapers.’ I said what could I say in a newspaper which is published by the government?” she said.
Neda Agha Soltan’s mother talked about the reasoning offered by the Islamic Republic authorities in exonerating themselves from involvement in the incident. “They say, ‘you know well that the government did not kill Neda. Neda’s death was suspicious. Maybe several people were killed during the events, but we didn’t kill Neda. These are conspiracies to make the Islamic Republic look bad to the world. They wanted to destroy the Islamic Republic with Neda’s murder.’ But making these films made things look even worse for them,” Rostami said.
Rostami told the Campaign that security forces have put pressure on the Agha Soltan family for television interviews. “They told me that the government is not the murderer of my daughter, therefore I should go to the TV station or wherever I like, to talk about this. I said to them that I know Neda’s murderer and this is why I would never go to their television. They said that as her parents, we should participate in the Crossroads film. I replied that I would never go the broadcasting network whose head is Mr. Zarghami who once said that Neda was an actress, that she was acting when she turned her eyes like that,” she said.
Neda Agha Soltan’s music teacher, Hamid Panahi, and her friend, Setareh, have participated in the Crossroads documentary film. “After Neda’s memorial service, I went and picked up some of her things from Mr. Panahi and I never saw him again. I mean I didn’t want to see him again, because I believe that someone who can go to Ministry of Intelligence is capable of doing anything. Of course, I reserve him the right to do as he wishes,” Hajar Rostami said.
“A friend of mine called me from the US the other day and said that she had had a dream about Neda. In her dream, Neda told her to tell her parents to file suit against her murderer in Iran, and if they couldn’t, to file a suit with the court at the Hague. I see your call on me as a continuation of my friend’s dream about Neda,” she added.
“Mr. Zarghami claimed Neda was an actress because she had her eyes open as she passed away. I want to tell him to put himself in my place for a second. His words have had a terrible impact on me. God knows Neda was not an actress, she was a young woman like other youth. She went to protest for her freedom. Why should she be called an actress? Mr. Zarghami, Neda’s eyes kept open and will remain open until they reach a conclusion. If she had closed her eyes, maybe it wouldn’t have had the same impact. Her open eyes shook the world, shook the Iranian nation, ” Hajar Rostami concluded.
Neda Agha Soltan, born 23 January 1983, is one of dozens of people who were murdered during the 2009 post-election protests in Tehran. She was murdered in Tehran’s Amir Abad neighborhood, on the corner of Shahid Salehi Street and Khosravi Alley. No one has assumed responsibility for Neda Agha Soltan’s murder so far. During the months following her death, Iran’s state television network, the IRIB, and several Islamic Republic authorities have repeatedly presented different scenarios regarding her death.