A screen grab captured from the popular social-networking site YouTube shows the final moments of Neda Agha-Soltan, as she lies dying from a bullet shot through her heart by Iranian government forces.
She stepped out of the car for just a moment to catch her breath. And in the blink of an eye she was shot dead by government forces in the middle of an Iranian street. The lone bullet hit Neda Agha-Soltan right in the chest. The 26-year-old university student began bleeding from her nose and mouth as her eyes rolled back into her head and her body became still. The woman whom friends have described as a loving friend and engaging companion was buried the next day. Her family was not even allowed to hold a memorial service or hang a black banner on the front door because the government feared it would only further incense protestors and cause more havoc on the Iranian streets.
Nedaâ€™s death was captured on a cell phone video camera and uploaded to the Internet before her body was even removed from the street. Millions of Internet users have viewed the footage of Nedaâ€™s final moments online and her death has served as a catalyst for the continuation of protests against perceived voting irregularities, which resulted in the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
For thousands of Iranians, Neda has become the symbol of the fight against the oppressive Iranian regime. She was an innocent victim who was targeted simply because she attended a public protest against the government. There have been many innocent victims of the Iranian governmentâ€™s crackdown on so-called unlawful protests. Both men and women alike have been beaten by merciless government forces, with many losing their lives in the battle.
Nedaâ€™s death has, specifically, reached out to the hearts and minds of Iranian women who have been emboldened to let their voices be heard. Some women walk down the streets adorned with the Islamic headscarf while holding placards skyward. Others throw stones and chant anti-government slogans. While others yet have used themselves as human shields to protect the injured from further atrocities or helped the wounded get off the streets and away from government forces.
The current protests in Iran have been likened to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, however there has been a drastic change that runs along gender lines. The revolution that took place 30 years ago was comprised almost exclusively of male protestors whereas today female protestors are clearly outnumbering the men on the Iranian streets. It has taken years for Iranian women to find their voices. Their coming of age can be seen in screen grabs from cable news program and in video footage uploaded to the Internet.
No matter what the outcome of the current protests turns out to be or how many innocents are beaten and battered. There is one thread of truth that runs through it all and makes Nedaâ€™s assassination anything but in vain. And that truth is that the Iranian women are the new pioneers for change in their country. With every step that they take or stone that they hurl, Iranian women are fighting the good fight for change, democracy and freedom in their country.