Her Name Means ‘Voice’

Dear Friend and Reader:

Her name was Neda Soltai, or Neda Agha Soltan.В In Farsi,В neda means “the voice”.В On June 20, 2009, Neda was shot in the chest, you might even say, in the heart — В killed by Basij militia while taking part inВ Iran’s post-election demonstrations.

TheВ Basij orВ Baseej, whose name means “Mobilization of the Oppressed” В is a voluntary paramilitaryВ force founded by the order of theВ Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini November 1979. Contrary to their name, the job of the Basij has evolved to repress dissent from activists, writers, and rival factions, and, typical to an oppressive regime — to quell student protests.

Early estimates say around the time Neda was killed, 19 have died, over nine times the number of those killed during the last Iranian Revolution in 1979. В More have been killed since then. Most first and second levels of opposition candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s campaign leadership were arrested or at least detained and held for questioning. Dissenters have been beaten, some say tortured. In the midst of what is growing into a heavily armed crackdown against civilian dissent, you would think the last thing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the ruling mullahs would want isВ martyrs.

As Eric reminds us in his recent post about the Saturn-Uranus aspects of the Iranian protests, what was once revolutionary — twentieth century theocratic Iran whose stern rule is reminiscent of centuries before –has become a flash point for the next iteration of the Iranian Revolution. It is Revolution 2.0, with the dissent of brave men and women made globally accessible by You Tube, Twitter and Facebook, and it feels like the revolution ofВ night versus day.

It is a political and spiritual breakthrough from a place for so long cloaked by the mire of our own racist and militarily opportunistic politics, as well as the religious fundamentalism that led to the breach between us and them. For those of usВ in the Western world standing by, allowing the political process of a country so far away to proceed no matter the cost, we’re hamstrung from interfering directly or aggressively.В Because of that,В Neda’s life and the lives of all women fighting for recognition of their personhood, equality and individuality against a hardline theocratic regime clutches us by the heart.

Death of Neda Agha-Soltan. A frame from the video of Agha-Soltan's death by gunfire.
Death of Neda Agha-Soltan. A frame from the video of Agha-Soltan's death by gunfire.

It is no small thing that in a fundamentalist Muslim theocracy the life andВ death of a young woman is now an icon for twenty-first century Iranian resistance to the status quo: Saturn’s recalcitrant old guard, the Ayatollah, challenged by a defiant, multi-generational and co-ed Uranian movement. The time seemed to be waiting for it.

Eric writes:

Events involving the Aries Point, or people with it prominent in their charts, have impact. Their lives can affect many people. They have a connection to the public and the public has a connection to them. This is the degree of the zodiac bearing the message, ‘The personal is political’.

As heard in the audio provided by Eric from CNN, Neda’s life, taken around the time of the Aries Point, has exploded into a world of meaning for the women of Iran who not only have found their voices, they are demanding to be heard, risking their own lives to do so. They are shouting “We are all Neda now”. A woman whose name means “voice” was shot as if the Basij could kill the very core of the revolution’s voice right there.В But as they say, the harder you suppress, the more breaks through.

One life, Neda’s life, however brief, makes a difference, but its also been many lives all along since the days in the late 1970s and beyond, making a river toВ push against a brutally intractable wall.В  In this case, this river is female and it seems to me, at least for today, growing as relentless as the forces against it.В We on the outside looking in do have a power, even if current diplomacy ties our hands from interfering directly. That power is our intention for true justice to come for those who need it there the most. With each day this revolution passes remember this in your heart. And as a prayer for them, with your own voice full and clear, say her name.

Yours and truly,

Fe Bongolan
San Francisco

7 thoughts on “Her Name Means ‘Voice’”

  1. Fe!

    thank you for this… I will read it more completely later, but it *is* interesting that her name meant voice, as did the other Martyr this year, Shabana al Kalam – the Kashmiri singer and dancer who was murdered by the Taliban in January.

    Like all fundamentalists –Baseej included– it seems the Talib have declared war on music. Good for them! The more they repudiate their own bodies, the faster they will dissolve into Clear Light.


  2. “even more appropriate in how it should resonate to Arabs, not only Farsis. And out of a woman’s “voice” which is supposed to be a “veiled” part of her body…yes yes yes.”


    I agree, and I think there is a ripple effect already underway. I wonder if there is a silence out there, if that really isn’t a silence at all, but a noiseless cover over what is seething inside, dying to come out.

  3. i understand Neda’ also means “call” in Arabic…a friend says, “even more appropriate in how it should resonate to Arabs, not only Farsis. And out of a woman’s “voice” which is
    supposed to be a “veiled” part of her body…yes yes yes.”

  4. St. brigit:

    An Iranian collegue of mine says 75% of Iran’s population is under 30. That means most of the people living in Iran were born after the first revolution.

    Curiosity with the West and modernity was not born under the context of our removal of their true elected leader in the 1950’s. They had no direct experience with the cause of anti-western discontent which led to the downfall of the shah.

    Watching this revolution unfold is watching two centuries battle.

  5. I am moved to tears and in awe of the power of Neda’s death. It is a catalyst for change for women all over the world. I’ve made a space in my heart to honor and hold the brave people of Iran. All of us are empowered by their actions.

  6. Fe: ……The Voices of the Iranian women , long supressed, are finally being heard round the world…….I first tuned into this vibe when I read Azar Nafisi`s fabulous book “Reading Lolita in Tehran ” several years ago. This New York Times best selling author and professor was instrumental in giving the young women she taught at University the courage and strong sense of self so necessary to “speak out” under their oppresive conditions….. As the book was written in 2003, it surely planted the seeds of some of what we see blossoming in Iran today……..Sisters, we are with you.

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