Man: Woman killed in Iran protests wanted freedom

Neda Agha Soltan, whose death was filmed and posted to Youtube, was willing to die for her beliefs, Iranian claiming to be her boyfriend says.

Neda Agha Soltan 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Neda Agha Soltan 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
A man identifying himself as the boyfriend of a young woman whose grisly death in Iran's postelection protests was captured on amateur video said Monday that she only wanted democracy and freedom for the people of Iran. In the video, seen by over 200,000 viewers since it was posted Saturday, Neda Agha Soltan is lying on the ground as blood flows from her mouth and nose and onlookers scream. Her last moments spread around the world on Youtube, Facebook, blogs and Twitter, turning her into an icon in the clash between Iran's cleric-led government and protesters. "She only ever said that she wanted one thing, she wanted democracy and freedom for the people of Iran," Caspian Makan told an Associated Press reporter during a telephone call from Tehran. Makan, a 37-year-old photojournalist in Teheran, said he met the 27-year-old music student several months ago on a trip outside the country. The AP was unable to verify his statements independently because of reporting strictures. But Makan did provide photographs of himself with a woman he identified as Soltan and also had her as a friend on his Facebook page and said he had intended to marry her. "I still feel her, I still talk to her," he said. Makan said that they had argued in the days before her death about her decision to attend the protests, which were part of the self-described "green wave" movement that claims hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stole his June 12 re-election. He said he had asked her not to go out for fear she would be arrested or shot. "I tried to dissuade her from going out in the streets because I'd seen in my work as a journalist that, unfortunately, there are a lot of merciless behaviors," Makan said. "But she said that our attendance would be worthwhile even if a bullet hits my heart," he said. "Unfortunately, that is how she died, a bullet hit her heart and her lung, and maybe 5 or 6 minutes later, she died." Neda, which means "voice," in Persian, has been dubbed, "the voice of the Iranian revolution," by users of social networking sites, Twitter and Facebook. According to reports on the two sites, the murder was carried out by a member of the Basij, a volunteer paramilitary organization, which takes orders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards under the direction of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini. Internet accounts say that Soltan's father was at her side during her death. But Makan said a white-haired man who is seen pressing on her chest in the video and repeatedly saying "don't be afraid, Neda dear, don't be afraid" was actually her music teacher. She'd grown dissatisfied with her theology studies and had taken up music, as a pianist, he said. They first met on a vacation in Izmir, Turkey, a town on the Mediterranean, on a vacation tour from Iran. He described Soltan as a plain-spoken woman who loved poetry - Iran's Rumi and America's Robert Frost were her favorites. Makan said that her pacifism made Soltan a "real Iranian." "She didn't believe that we always have to fight and quarrel and be violent and have death," said Makan. "There's only one thing [Iranians] must fight and that's ignorance. And you don't fight ignorance with a sword or a gun. You turn on a light."