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IRAN: Neda's friends, family describe woman who became an icon

June 22, 2009 |  1:28 pm


She was “a beam of light,” a music and travel lover -- but never an activist.

Friends and family of Neda Agha-Soltan spoke to The Times’ Borzou Daragahi about the 26-year-old Iranian woman seen bleeding on the streets of Tehran in shaky video footage that has turned her into an international symbol of the protest movement:

The first word came from abroad. An aunt in the United States called her Saturday in a panic. "Don't go out into the streets, Golshad," she told her. "They're killing people."

The relative proceeded to describe a video, airing on exile television channels that are jammed in Iran, in which a young woman is shown bleeding to death as her companion calls out, "Neda! Neda!"

A dark premonition swept over Golshad, who asked that her real name not be published. She began calling the cellphone and home number of her friend Neda Agha-Soltan, who had gone to the chaotic demonstration with a group of friends, but Neda didn't answer.

At midnight, as the city continued to smolder, Golshad drove to the Agha-Soltan residence in the eastern Tehran Pars section of the capital.

As she heard the cries and wails and praising of God reverberating from the house, she crumpled, knowing that her worst fears were true.

"Neda! Neda!" the 25-year-old cried out. "What will I do?"

Read Daragahi's report Family, friends mourn Iranian woman who died on video.

-- Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles

Photo: An undated picture posted online June 22, 2009, shows Neda Agha-Soltan, who was reportedly shot and killed during a protest in Tehran. Credit: AFP / Getty Images