A Philosopher's Blog

Death in Iran

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on June 25, 2009
Neda's photo - June 20 Iran election protest i...
Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

The state run news has acknowledged that people are being killed in Iran, and the best known of these is Neda AghaSoltan. The current official line is that she was shot by mistake. According to a CNN report, it has been claimed that “the marksmen had mistaken her for the sister of one of the Monafeghin who had been executed in the Province of Mazandaran some time ago.”

This explanation is hardly reassuring. Even if it is true, this would indicate that the government has authorized street executions. Neda was shot even though she was unarmed and not involved in any threatening behavior. This certainly suggests that the marksman was told to kill the sister of the executed Monafeghin on sight rather than apprehend her. This is rather worrisome. After all, women in Iran are required to cover themselves, thus making recognizing individual women more difficult. Perhaps other women have been murdered in the streets simply because they happen to look like someone else the government wants to kill.

It is also possible that the sniper shot was a terror tactic. After all, one way to “persuade” people to stay of the streets is to randomly shoot people who go out. Doing so is not as costly as mowing people down in large numbers and can be quite effective. Of course, the obvious risk is that shooting innocent people does tend to outrage people. Also it can create martyrs and they have a special power in Iranian culture.

It might also be the case that her death was purely a mistake-a random act of violence or a stray bullet. Perhaps an investigation will sort things out. Perhaps the government will lie. At this point, we do not know.

Of course, none of that matters now to her. Whatever the reason for her death, she will never see another day, she will never finish her degree and she will never get married. All that has been stolen from her. That is what oppressive regimes do-they steal what is most precious from their people. This is why, of course, such regimes must meet their ends.

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