I Am Neda

By Mikel Jollett and Nazanin Boniadi for The Neda Project

Actress Nazanin Boniadi and The Airborne Toxic Event's Mikel Jollett

The tragic death of Neda Agha-Soltan on June 20th, 2009, sent a shiver down the cumulative spine of all freedom-loving people across the world. She quickly became the face of the human rights movement in Iran and has given a voice to the voiceless around the world.

In honor of her and in solidarity with the people of Iran, The Airborne Toxic Event and Amnesty have teamed up for the Neda Project. The song “Neda” is released on iTunes today (Tuesday, June 8th) with ALL proceeds from sales to benefit Amnesty International.

In addition to the iTunes release, we have made a web-based video retelling the historic events around Neda’s death. The purpose of the video is to tell the story to people of the world who may not be aware of the Iranian struggle for freedom and to send a message to people living inside Iran that we stand with them and support their brave efforts.

What you can do:

1.  Watch the video

2.  Send out a message via your various social media, alerting others to the video. If you use twitter include this text:

I am Neda. www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXN_yCSbUYk #neda r/t

3.  Change your Facebook/Myspace/Imeem status to “I am Neda”

4.  Upload a picture of yourself holding a sign saying “I am Neda”

5.  Visit nedaspeaks.org to learn more about the struggle for human rights in Iran and to participate in specific political actions that Amnesty has crafted urging the release of political prisoners.

Why Neda?

We believe that the viral video of Neda’s death was a sea-change in political power in the world. It was the first viral video to change the course of history, a symbol that the power of broadcasting is no longer simply in the hands of governments and corporations, but in the hands of people. It is in the hands of anyone with a cell phone camera and an internet connection. It is in your hands right now.


"Do Not Be Afraid" is One Word in Farsi

Of all the players in what has become Iran’s bloodiest uprising in 30 years, few have captured the world’s attention like the Iranian women have. It began with Zahra Rahnavard, the wife of presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi. An professor at Tehran University, she was the first candidate’s spouse to campaign publicly on behalf of her husband, and as a result, her rallies drew thousands decked out in green. Rahnavard was even nicknamed the Michelle Obama of the Middle East. Post-election, she is still campaigning fiercely against the current Iranian regime, only this time for the release of detainees and to allow legal protests to continue.

Since then, women of all ages have been turning up at the protests against the contested election results. One 19 year old girl told CNN that she was beaten by paramilitary forces and forced to give them her camera’s memory card—something she stealthily got around by giving them an empty card instead. “They were hitting everyone, and everywhere was fire because of the tear gas they throw at us,” she said. “There were a lot of other women there. We gave the boys the stones because we can’t throw them so far. We gave them the stones, and we said the slogans.”

In his press conference yesterday, President Obama acknowledged the role of women in the Iranian protests. “We have seen courageous women stand up to brutality and threats, and we have experienced the searing image of a woman bleeding to death on the streets,” Obama said.

Perhaps the most iconic woman of this struggle is now Neda Agha-Soltan, the non-political, 26 year old music student who was shot to death as she stepped out of her car to get some air. The graphic video of her death has already been viewed on YouTube over 200,000 times, in which onlookers tell her “do not be afraid”. She is now referred to as the new voice and symbol of the revolution.

Melody Moezzi, an Iranian American author, went on CNN and emotionally declared that Neda’s death has made an enemy out of all the Iranian people for the Supreme Leader and his leadership. “Natersid, natersid—do not be afraid—is one word in Farsi. That word has become so powerful. She’s a martyr; she’s going straight to heaven. God is on her side, we are on her side.”

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post