Caspian Makan says he was Neda Agha Soltan's fiance when she was shot down in the streets of Tehran, Iran on June 20, 2009.
While the West watched in horror, the beautiful young woman known as Neda Agha Soltan, died as bystanders videoed her blood draining into the streets. She took a bullet directly to the heart - and had told her fiance, Caspian Makan, 37, that she was willing to do just that - take a bullet to the heart, to bring democracy to her country.
On the day of her death, Neda was in a car stalled in heavy traffic with her friend, Hamid Panahi, and two others. They were making their way to a protest area. While the traffic went nowhere, the story is, Neda stepped into the street for fresh air and was immediately hit in the chest. Panahi is quoted saying "All she wanted was the proper vote of the people to be counted."
Makan and Neda met in Turkey only two months prior to her death, when Neda was traveling with a guided tour through Turkey, Dubai and Thailand.
He tells the GuardianUK that Neda was politically active and dedicated to overthrowing Achmadinejad. Makan refused to join the protests and was nervous about Neda taking part. She told him he should be documenting the violence.
Neda was present at the front line of the protests from the very first day. She was a natural leader and attracted many [protesters] to her side. I think that is why she was shot. ...they wanted to extinguish her.It is worth noting that some friends say that Neda was not a long-time activist and had just begun speaking out about the elections, so the degree of her activism is unclear.
Caspian did not learn of Neda's death until the morning after she died. He was arrested three days later,"on the personal order of Khamenei," and was detained for 65 days in the notorious Evin prison. He was released after signing papers promising to never again talk about Neda, and never to leave the Iran. Using smugglers to get him out of the country, he made it out safely.
Makan has recently given two interviews and a documentary or a movie about Neda is in the works with director Angus Macqueen:
In both interviews she emerges as a markedly different figure to the young woman depicted at the time of her death. Her fiance describes her as politically active and assertive, convinced she was fighting for "democracy and freedom" for Iranians.Neda was 26. She was divorced, a graduate of Islamic Azad University. She was a musician and singer and had made a name for herself in
According to Makan, and contrary to most reports at the time of the protests, Neda Soltan did not support any of the candidates opposing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Two days after Neda was shot down, violent protests followed and a Iranian cleric opposed to Achmadinejad, called for three days of public mourning. Reports vary about her burial. Some say the Iranian government withheld her body for a time, some say she was buried by the government in a grave set aside for protesters.
Other reports say the family was denied a public funeral and only family was allowed to attend. Neda's family and friends tried to gather at their local mosque for a memorial and found a sign on the door saying "there is no commemoration here for Neda Agha Soltan.The Basij military arrived and broke-up the mourners. At the time, prayers for Neda in local mosques were banned. and neighbors said the family was forced from their home - although that report cannot be confirmed.