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Iran’s Dagdag Bawas Protests Claims A Female Martyr; 39+M Votes Hand-counted In 12 Hours?

June 22, 2009


neda soltani in life montage

The streets of the Iranian capital of Tehran have been relatively calm for two days today even as citizens kept up their protests against dagdag-bawas in their presidential elections last week that supposedly handed Mahmoud Ahmedinajad an 11-million winning margin over his reformist opponent, former former prime minister Mir-Hossein Moussavi.

Acknowledged to be popular in Iran’s provincial areas, Ahmedinajad clearly had the cards stacked in his favor but citizens shouting “where is my vote” are incensed at confirmation that the number of ballots cast were far in excess of the total number of voters.

The public rejection of the vote results and of the order of Ayatollah Khameini for the protests to stop, has been highlighted now by anger over the death from a Basji state security sniper’s bullet of 27-year old Neda Agha-Soltan who was among the thousands of women who turned out with their kin to demand new elections and for Ahmedinajad to step down.

The shot that felled Neda has been heard around the world with her final moments having been recorded on amateur cellphone videos and uploaded on the Internet and described in Twitter and Facebook blog threads.

Here’s the story of Neda’s death as narrated in Wikipedia:

The graphic videos were posted on the Internet, and her name quickly became a rallying cry for the opposition. Neda means “voice” or “calling” in Persian, and she has been referred to as the “voice of Iran” and “a symbol of pro-democracy protesters battering the Islamic regime” in the World
An unnamed Twitter poster claimed that on June 20, 2009, Neda, along with her father, were participating in a protest march on Karegar Avenue in the city of Tehran[4] when she is said to have been shot by members of the Iranian Basij volunteer militia. Undated amateur videos of Neda’s apparent death were uploaded to Facebook and YouTube[4], and spread across the internet virally. The videos were accompanied by a message from an anonymous individual who claimed to have been present when the video was recorded:
At 19:05 June 20th Place: Karegar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi St. A young woman who was standing aside with her father watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. “I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gass used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.”

There are three videos depicting Neda’s death; one shows Neda collapsing to the ground, apparently still conscious. The second shows Neda only after she appears to lose consciousness and begins to bleed heavily.
The first video appears to have been recorded using a mobile phone. The cameraman approaches a group of people huddled together in front of a parked car at the side of the street. As he moves closer, Neda can be seen collapsing to the pavement, a large bloodstain at her feet. Two men, one presumed to be her father, are seen trying to revive her; as seconds pass her eyes roll to one side and she appears to lose consciousness. Blood begins to pour from her nose and mouth, and screams are heard.
At this point in time, the second video begins. The cameraman approaches Neda and the two men; the camera passes over them and centers on Neda’s face; her stare is blank and she is bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth. Loud screaming can be heard.
The man next to Neda can apparently be heard speaking in the first video, saying her name;
“Neda, don’t be afraid. Neda, don’t be afraid. [obscured by others yelling] Neda, stay with me. Neda stay with me!”
A third video has surfaced which apparently shows Neda at the protest march, before her death

Time magazine is saying Neda’s death could very well impact on defining change Iran may undergo in the days and weeks to come:

Shi’ite mourning is not simply a time to react with sadness. Particularly in times of conflict, it is also an opportunity for renewal. The commemorations for Neda and the others killed this weekend are still to come. And the 40th-day events are usually the largest and most important.
Neda is already being hailed as a martyr, a second important concept in Shi’ism. With the reported deaths of 19 people on June 20, martyrdom provides a potent force that could further deepen public anger at Iran’s regime. (See the top 10 players in Iran’s power struggle.)
The belief in martyrdom is central to modern politics as well as Shi’ite tradition dating back centuries in Iran. It, too, helped propel the 1979 revolution. It sustained Iran during the eight-year war with Iraq, when more than 120,000 Iranians died in the bloodiest modern Middle East conflict. Most major Iranian cities have a martyrs’ museum or a martyrs’ cemetery.,8599,1906049,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly

The estimates vary with Iranian state media reporting 10 dead from last weeks’s incidents but Western media reports have mentioned Iranian hospital sources as saying up to 19 have died.

There are fears the casualty count is much higher as witnesses reported how security agents had gone to hospitals hauling out dead protesters even before their bodies had been tagged and properly identified

Iranian state radio has said 457 people have been arrested at the protest actions, not including scores also being picked up in house to house raid.

Today motorized anti-riot police remained out in force to keep protesters at bay.

Whatever the final statistics are, it is the singular death of Neda Agha-Soltan that’s now emblematic of the toll extracted by the stand of courageous Iranians against their politicians’ version of massive dagdag-bawas.

Vanity Fair Magazine has come up with a thorouhly revealing calculation en route to it describing the Iranian elections as being “totally corrupt.”

Thomas Kaplan writes:

To claim Friday’s election results were legitimate requires accepting the fact that the Iranian authorities managed to process all 39.2 million paper ballots between the close of polls at 10 p.m. local time and the next morning, when Iran’s Interior Ministry officially proclaimed Ahmadinejad the winner with 63 percent of the vote.

The announcement came little more than 12 hours after the last vote was cast. Which translates to approximately 3.27 million ballots counted per hour, 54,444 per minute, and 907 per second.

Such blatant fraud makes one wonder how our own upcoming truly automated elections will fair, with the COMELEC still negotiating the finer points of the contract it is awarding to the Smartmatic TIM consortium.

We’ll be paying them PhP 11.2-B NOT TO OWN BUT RENT the machines, in case this information is missed.

COMELEC Chairman Melo, a former lawyer of Benjamin Abalos Sr. (yes, the resigned former head of that poll body) explains that the cost is only to lease the machines for the 2010 elections “because the way technology gets outmoded so quickly, we can’t be left with old gadgets and with Smartmatic automatically being our maitenance outfit every electoral exercise after 2010.”

Elections management indeed is BIG BUSINESS, at taxpayer expense, of course.

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