21 June, 2009

She is the one in fifty million who can help us to be free
Because she died on TV
- Roger Waters

The news coming out of Iran is both inspiring and gut-wrenching. Most of it is coming in almost real time via Twitter. Cable news networks, the traditional go-to source for breaking news for the last 20 years, have been left in the dust, reduced to reporting on what has been posted online.

The movement now has a face - a girl known as Neda. According to 'blog reports, she was shot by a Basij sniper and an accompanying YouTube clip shows the last minute of her life.

I'm not going to post the clip or the stills. You all know how to use the internet.

While the uprising in Iran has brought a new level of "citizen journalism," one thing hasn't changed - we relate better if we see it.
Some of the outpourings of grief being reposted all over Twitter include,

The Voice of Iran - We Will Not Forget You Neda - You Will Not Have Died In Vain

Neda died with open eyes. Shame on us to live with closed eyes

The World cries seeing your last breath, you didn't die in vain. We remember you.

Why will we remember?
Because we saw it. She's not one of the nameless, faceless thousands merely listed as "killed," we actually saw the life fade from her eyes as blood spilt out her mouth and nostrils right there on YouTube.

What's important to remember is that this young woman is not merely the face of Iranian repression, she is the face of every victim on every side of every conflict.
Every regrettable incident, every tragic mistake, every piece of "collateral damage," every order to fire, every attack, every crusade, every vengeance, every necessary evil looks just like this - or much worse.
The only difference here, is that we've seen it, unfiltered.
So while we grieve and rage for Neda, let's also remember all the others who we didn't see.


  1. Somebody once said if genocide was televised there'd be no more genocide. Now we have twitter and myspace and instant information but we still have genocide.

    Will Neda help Iran be free? I don't know. Did the engineer's daughter help China be free?

  2. No argument there.

    I think perhaps seeing it for real puts it into context for a lot of people. It's not abstract any more. Then the cult of celebrity takes over.

    Neda's death touches us because we saw it in a way that most of us have never seen before.
    Would televising genocide eliminate it, or merely desensitise us to it like it has everything else?

  3. Imagine all the fun of genocide plus a comments section.