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Monday, June 22, 2009

Neda--A Symbol of Revolution

Distressing footage depicting the death of a young Iranian woman at a demonstration in Iran has turned her into a galvanizing symbol for the country’s protest movement.

The young woman, known as Neda, believed to be 16-years-old was shot dead while attending a protest with her father in Tehran on Saturday.

Footage of her death was captured on video and has been watched by thousands on social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

Iranian state television said 10 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded in Saturday’s protest which was held in defiance of a warning from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The office of Tehran's prosecutor general claimed "unknown vandals" had opened fire and killed people on Saturday, Press TV, Iran's English-language television channel, said.

Witnesses claimed she was shot by member of the pro-government Basij militia from the rooftop of a civilian house.

Supporters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi have urged people to demonstrate solidarity with victims of unrest by carrying black candles with green ribbons, their website said.

Motorists have been called on to turn on their headlights for two hours from 5 p.m. to "show their solidarity with families of martyrs killed in recent events".

"Protesting against lies and fraud (in the election) is your right," Mr Mousavi, who officially came second to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the poll, said in a statement on his website late yesterday.

"In your protests, continue to show restraint. I am expecting armed forces to avoid irreversible damage," he said.

The unrest in Iran is the most widespread since the 1979 Islamic Revolution which ousted the US-backed shah.

Iran's most senior dissident cleric - Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri - called for three days of national mourning for those killed.

"Resisting people's demand is religiously prohibited," he said. The Grand Ayatollah who was also an architect of the Islamic revolution fell out with the present leadership and has been under house arrest for some years.

Mohammad Khatami, a Mousavi ally and a moderate former president, warned of "dangerous consequences" if the people were prevented from expressing their demands in peaceful ways.

His comments, carried by the semi-official Mehr news agency, were implicit criticism of Khamenei, who has backed a ban on protests and defended the outcome of the election.

State television said a daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a rival of Ahmadinejad, had been released after being detained together with four other relatives during the Saturday rally in Tehran

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