Iranian photojournalist Caspian Makan, the fiancé of Neda Agha Soltan, the icon of the Iranian protest movement who was murdered during a demonstration in Teheran on June 20, 2009, met on Monday with President Shimon Peres.
Makan, who today lives as a political refugee in Canada, spent time in Teheran’s notorious Evin prison, where he and other members of the protest movement were taken. He was released on bail after his family put up their house as collateral.
He subsequently fled to freedom, traveling via Turkey to the West.
Although Makan had requested the meeting with Peres, the president was no less interested in knowing him than Makam was in getting to know the president.
Neda was an enlightened person, a freedom fighter, to whom nothing was more important than freedom. She loved humanity with all her soul, Makan told Peres.
Before she was gunned down by Iranian paramilitary police, Soltan had held intense discussions with Makan about her aspirations, and they were both aware of all the risks involved in attempting to attain those goals, he said.
After she was murdered, she became a global symbol of freedom. Her courage and determination led to a closing of ranks among the Iranian people and hopefully, said Makam, would produce the results of which Soltan had dreamed.
Peres told Makam that Israel had a great historical friendship with the Iranian people.
“Iran is not ‘enriched uranium,’ but a rich and ancient culture, and the uprising of a large segment of the Iranian population has restored honor to Iranian culture,” he said.
Peres stated that in his perception, the campaign that is being mounted by the Iranian people is more than a military or economic battle; it is an ethical and moral battle, in which Neda Soltan was a brave soldier.
“You can kill a person, but you can’t kill his or her spirit. A single candle can cast a bright light in the darkness. This is a candle that can never be extinguished. I am certain that this enlightened and moral campaign in Iran will triumph.”
On a more personal note, Peres told Makam that he understood how
difficult it was for him to carry the burden of grief. He assured Makam
that he would find friends and a very warm reception in Israel, and
added that he appreciated the fact that Makam had given him the
opportunity to personally convey his condolences over the tragedy and
to express his hopes for Iran’s future.
Makam replied that he
had been impressed by what he had already seen in Israel. It was in his
a view a country that respected its citizens and allowed them total
freedom – a situation that contrasted radically with that of Iran.
leaving, Makam said that he had come to Israel on behalf of his people
as an ambassador of the peace camp. He had no doubt that Nada’s soul
felt the warmth and the sensitivity of the reception he had been
accorded in Israel.
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