Iran: Memorials planned to mark Neda’s death


Neda Agha-Soltan was gunned down on a Tehran street on June 20.
In death Neda Agha-Soltan became the face of Iran’s post-election demonstrations. On Thursday, the religiously significant 40th day after her fatal shooting, mourning ceremonies were planned in Tehran to remember her.

For Iranians, a predominantly Shiite Muslim population, the 40th day marks the last official day of mourning. Agha-Soltan, 26, was shot in street protests on June 20. Her last moments were captured on a shaky video, probably shot with a cell phone, and dispatched for the world to see. Reformist candidate Mir Houssein Moussavi, who was hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s chief challenger, said on his Web site that he and fellow reform candidate Mehdi Karrubi would commemorate Agha-Soltan with her mother on Thursday at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery. The ceremonies are to begin at 4 p.m. (7:30 a.m. ET). Moussavi’s Web site initially said the opposition leader would surface at Mossalla, a building under construction that is expected to be the future venue of Tehran’s Friday prayers. The site has an estimated capacity of 60,000 people.

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The government, however, denied a request to hold a public ceremony there, according to Iran’s Norooz News. Agha-Soltan’s mourning day has the potential to turn into broader demonstrations. An official death toll in post-election violence has not been updated in weeks, but the Iranian Labor News Agency cited Farhad Tajari, deputy chief of the parliament’s judicial and legal commission, as saying that “evidence shows that ultimately 30 people were killed.” Moussavi supporters think the election was rigged in favor of Ahmadinejad, who is to be sworn in next week. In the days following the vote, thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest the results. The government cracked down. Hundreds were detained in prison, among them 50 “political figures” accused of playing key roles in street demonstrations that turned violent, Iranian media reported Wednesday.

Among those still reportedly detained is Shahpour Kazemi, Moussavi’s brother-in-law, according to Moussavi’s wife. Others include Behzad Nabavi, a Moussavi ally, and Mostafa Tajzadeh, who served under Iranian President Mohammad Khatami — a Moussavi supporter — the Iranian Labor News Agency reported Tuesday, citing Tajari.

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