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Interview: Mother's tribute to Neda

Neda protest in Dubai - 25 June
Neda's death has sparked protests all over the world

The mother of Neda Agha Soltan, the 27-year-old Iranian protester whose death on 20 June was captured on mobile phone video, has spoken at length to the BBC World Service. The following is a transcript of the interview with Hajar Rostami Motlagh.


How did you first hear about your daughter's death?

She left the house mid-afternoon. I couldn't join her but I said I'd keep in touch with her. I managed to get through to her twice. I asked her what was going on. She said the streets are full of people… I asked her to come back home. I told her I was worried about her being out in the crowd. She said fine, I will head back home soon.

Then I called her again and this time she said she was stuck with her friends in this area where soldiers had fired tear gas…She said her eyes were stinging.

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The last two people who spoke to her were her uncle and aunt.

Then early that evening I got a call from her music teacher. He said: "Come to the hospital, Neda has been shot."

He told me she had been shot in the leg. I went to the hospital. The music teacher, Mr Panahi's shirt was covered in blood. I said I want to know the truth… I knew something was wrong… they weren't telling me the truth… They kept saying different things about where she had been shot. Fifteen or 20 minutes later, I learned my daughter was dead.

Had Neda been politically active, involved in politics?

It was all about being young and feeling passionate about freedom. She wasn't political. She didn't belong to any party or group. She didn't support any faction. Every other young Iranian was there - and she was one of them.

FROM BBC WORLD SERVICE

She was very special. She finished high school and then got married. Philosophy and theology were her favourite subjects. She was a spiritual person. She believed in God. She loved music. You can't blame young people for going out and wanting to feel free.

At the time that she was killed, what were Neda's plans? What were her hopes for her own life?

Young people have dreams. I can't tell you what her dreams were - but she wasn't given the chance to make her dreams come true.

But there was one dream she spoke about very openly… that she longed to become a mother. She used to ask me how it felt to be a mother? What is it like? And this for me is the most painful thing of all. She got married but she never had a child. She lived with her husband but they separated after three years… and for the past couple of years she was living with me.

I understand that she was a gifted musician?

She loved music. She also took singing classes for a couple of years. She was also an excellent hairdresser. She was so good at that!

Emotionally we are all broken. What can we say to each other? Our loved ones were too young to die
Hajar Rostami Motlagh

Just before her death - Neda and her brother looked into buying a piano. They found one.

Last week, Mohammad, her brother, bought the piano in Neda's memory and he has now put it in her room. He plays it every night for one hour - to remember his sister.

She also loved travelling - she had been to Dubai and Turkey. And she loved Istanbul. She wanted to live there one day.

Has the death of Neda made you more political?

No, not really. No. I can't tell you if her death has turned me into a political person. I am still in shock. In pain. I can't think about anything except her.

But it is important to you that there should be an investigation into the death of your daughter?

Yes. because Mr Ahmadinejad has ordered an investigation. And that's why I am also trying to find out how Neda was killed.

And have you had any contact with the opposition presidential candidate, Mir Husein Moussavi, since the death of your daughter?

Neda's mother has been visited by opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi
Neda's mother during a visit from opposition candidate Mehdi Karroubi

No. I have had no contact with Mr Mousavi. But Mr Karroubi - the other opposition figure - came to our house on Monday night.

It's important for me that he visited us. He was very supportive and I found that comforting. Our conversation was published in Etemad, which is Mr Karroubi's own newspaper.

He said she was innocent… she was a martyr. And he said her killer must be found.

Have you had much contact with the mothers of others who were killed in the protests?

Yes. I went to visit the mothers of Sohrab Arabi and Ashkan Sohrab… they were two teenagers who were killed. And then both the mothers also came to my house too.

And is it useful to have that support, to have that community, of mothers?

Emotionally we are all broken. What can we say to each other? Our loved ones were too young to die… what can three mothers in the same situation say to each other? All we can do is just sit there and cry.

Do you think that anybody will ever be brought to justice for the death of your daughter?

I don't know. I don't know. We can't predict the future. Justice has to be done. Mr Ahmadinejad has ordered an investigation and I am waiting for Neda's killer to be arrested and brought to justice.

How would you like your daughter to be remembered?

I don't want people to forget her. People - Iranians - have all been very supportive. They come to me and congratulate me for having had such a brave daughter.

And now I want you to do something for me. I want you, on my behalf, to thank everyone around the world, Iranians and non Iranians, people from every country and culture, people who in their own way, their own tradition, have mourned my child… everyone who lit a candle for her - every musician, who wrote songs for her, who wrote poems about her… you know, Neda loved the arts and music. I want to thank all of them.

I want to thank politicians and leaders, from every country, at all levels, who remembered my child.

Her death has been so painful - words can never describe my true feelings. But knowing that the world cried for her… that has comforted me.

I am proud of her. The world sees her as a symbol, and that makes me happy.



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