Opinion: Another sign of desperation in Tehran: ‘Neda’s killing was staged’

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The Times editorialized last week that the killings of Iranian opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi’s nephew and several other opposition signal how increasingly desperate the Tehran regime is in stopping opposition forces. How quickly the government provides another example of its desperation:

Iranian state television has made a documentary about the death of Neda Agha Soltan, a young Iranian woman who was shot dead during the June postelection protests in Tehran, suggesting she was an agent of the United States and Britain who staged her own death. ...


The state-television documentary suggests the video of Neda’s dying moments merely depicted her pouring blood on her own face from a special bottle she was carrying. Later, the documentary alleges that 27-year-old Neda was shot dead in the car that was taking her to a hospital. ...

‘While Neda is [pretending] she is injured and is lying on the back seat of the car on their lap, they bring out a handgun from their pockets,’ the documentary’s narrator says.

‘A handgun that they obtained from their Western and Iranian friends to water the tree of reforms and kill people and create divisions within society. Neda, for a moment, realizes their wicked plan and struggles to escape, but they quickly shoot her from behind.’

The narrator adds that this is how ‘deceived and deceitful’ Neda was killed.
This kind of farcical propaganda -- and this is an especially gruesome example -- reminds me of some of communist Eastern Europe’s greatest hits, namely, calling the Berlin Wall the ‘Anti-Fascist Protection Wall.’ (Remember that the East German government, too, resorted to such a measure at a moment of desperation, when Easterners were fleeing West in great numbers.)

Historical comparisons aside, Tehran will also put five protesters arrested during last week’s demonstrations on trial for warring against God, a charge that carries an automatic death sentence upon conviction. In addition, several members of the Bahai faith, which is outlawed in Iran, were arrestedbecause ‘they played a role in organizing the Ashura protests and namely for having sent abroad pictures of the unrest,’ according to Tehran’s prosecutor general.

The question, of course, is whether the regime’s actions will have a chilling effect on opposition forces. The killing of Mousavi’s nephew certainly didn’t scare away protesters, and as The Times’ editorial notes, the pro-reform movement ‘appears to have grown into a politically and geographically diverse grass-roots uprising. Its challenge of the election results has expanded into a challenge to the very legitimacy of the Islamic government.’ Best of luck (but not, really) fighting against that.

-- Paul Thornton