30 Jul 2009 13:41
AFP/Getty [TEHRAN BUREAU] Caspian Makan 37, boyfriend of Neda 27 (Q&A conducted 24 June 2009)
Neda was a very happy girl, she was, how can I put it, a simple person, innocent, sweet. She was the sort of girl that when we went somewhere together, everyone liked her, people were drawn to her. She was very kind with people, she had a really sweet personality, very sweet, innocent and open. People were drawn to her.
She was not at all into politics nor was she a protestor or part of this 'green wave' movement. She didn't support any of the candidates. She just wanted democracy and a little freedom, a little freedom in a logical reasonable way, that was what she wanted -- just the basic rights of the Iranian people which this regime wants to take away from them.
We knew each for just three months. It was not long enough...
It's not true we were engaged. We were talking about it but we wanted to know each other better.
We didn't meet in Iran, we met in Turkey three months ago, we were both on holiday. Turkey is one of the few places Iranians can go to without a visa and we had both signed up with a tour. She was with a girlfriend -- she wanted to see the world as much as was possible to her -- and I had decided to take a break, to go somewhere where I could breathe a little free air. We met at the airport of Izmir. We happened to be sitting next to each other, she was with her girlfriend and we started talking. I was attracted to her smile and her lovely way of speaking and being. The holiday was 8 days long and we spent all the time together.
When we came back to Iran, we continued to see each other. We both live in Tehran, she lived with her family in the west of the city and I have a flat alone not so far away. Our relationship became deeper and we saw that we loved being with each other; we had very similar tastes, agreed on many things in life, really agreed on fundamental things. We had the same values and the same outlook on life. We were together all the time and we became very very close.
I am a writer and a filmmaker; I make natural history documentaries and she was passionate about nature too. She was very artistic and sensitive and also liked philosophy. We would have such interesting talks about philosophy, religion... She sang and played the violin and she wanted to learn the piano; she really loved music, and she had started to learn photography -- we had just bought her a nice camera, she wanted to take pictures of nature, wanted to help me with my books and with my films, and I was starting to teach her. She was very talented.
But we were not engaged because we wanted to get to know each other better, and it had only been a few months. She was a girl who didn't want to just have a boyfriend and I am past the age for playing around with relationships. I want to settle down. We were serious and because we wanted to see if we should really be together, we had decided to spend a little time apart to decide what we wanted to do.
For 10 or 12 days we didn't see each other and we had no contact because we wanted to see how we really felt about each other. We had chosen a day to meet and had agreed that on that day, we would decide if we wanted really to be together, to share a life with each other. I knew I wanted to be with her and we she came to the meeting place I knew she felt the same way and I was so happy. We both decided that we should be together so that was how we were going forward. We hadn't yet become formally engaged but it was where we were headed.
Five-six days before she was martyred, we had had a fight, because I was very worried about her walking about alone in the city and getting caught up in the protests. I didn't' feel she was safe and we had been fighting about it. She wanted to see what was going on, she wasn't part of the 'green wave' but she believed in freedom for Iran and she wanted to show her support. But she never went to the demonstrations; she was just curious and I didn't want her to do it. She was annoyed that I was not supporting her in this, she said to me: 'You support me in everything else I do, why not now?'
She didn't want any of the current candidates but she was hoping that with support maybe this was a way forward that would lead one day to democracy. She didn't believe in violence or aggression and so she didn't want to join the demonstrations.
I felt too protective of her to want her to get caught up in this. How can I explain, she was like a treasure to me and I wanted to protect her, to make sure nothing bad could happen to her.
I have a feeling often about things before they happen, a sort of sixth sense and I had a bad feeling that I couldn't shake off, so didn't want her to leave the house, to go around the city as she always did, to go near the protests, I didn't think it was safe but she insisted on going to see what was going on.
We had a date for the day after. I was supposed to see her the next day after she was martyred.
She was not going to the protest, but had been in the car for more than an hour, you know how it is driving around in Tehran, journeys can take so long and it is hot now, high summer, and because of the demonstrations it was more jammed than ever. She was hot, the air-conditioner in her car had broken... I was supposed to fix the air conditioner in her car and I hadn't got round to it.
So she got out of the car to stretch her legs. She was with her music teacher, and they were just strolling around, they were quite far from the demonstrations, not anywhere near the trouble, just on the edges, when out of nowhere, she was shot. You have seen what happened, I can't talk about it...
I think death is a natural thing, it is another state of being like sleeping, another phase that we must all face in life. But that is a natural death; to be killed, to be killed, that is not natural.
People do not have the right to take the life of another human being. Ever.
Only that who has given life can take it away, God, not people. No-one has the right to take away the life of another human being, it is wrong.
How can someone allow themselves to kill another person, a defenceless innocent person, a sweet beautiful girl who hasn't even picked up a stone, why does she have to die, why do the Nedas always have to die? Do they not have rights? They have taken all our rights, now are they taking our right to life itself? Do they not have the right to live? Do we not have the right to breathe, to be, to walk, to love, and to sing?
She wanted freedom in the country in a logical way, freedom of thought and being. She was not very impressed with any of the candidates but anyway she hoped that these protests could lead to more freedom for the country.
But instead they took her freedom, her very freedom to be alive, to breathe.
I have no expectations of this regime, I am against them and I expect nothing better of them, so I am not disappointed in their actions. But I do think that if this regime is going to be so obvious in its mistreatment of the people, of not listening to what they want and their hearts' desires, if this regime is going to set itself against the people so squarely, then why can't we talk about it? Why can't we have a debate about the problems? Why do we have to be beaten and killed? Why do they use tear gas and water hoses and bullets and air bullets and sirens to beat us back? why do they kill the Nedas of this world for their own stupid power games and pretend nothing is wrong?
These days since her martyrdom I am beside myself, but I am busy with people coming to see me and share my grief. We had a lot of friends, everyone is here, no-one is leaving me alone, I am being supported by all our friends and family.
I can't do anything, my whole life was Neda so I have no idea how to go on. I still can't believe it. I don't care if they do something to me now, they have taken away my reason for living.
Her family is also in shock, we are quite close. They can't believe it, it's not believable... How can such a thing happen? We are in touch and supporting each other as much as we can but really, what can we do, we are in disbelief. She had an older sister and a younger brother.
It was difficult to get her body from the authorities. She was in a morgue outside Tehran. The officials from the morgue asked if they could use parts of her corpse for body transplants for medical patients. Her family agreed because they wanted to bury her as soon as possible but we don't know what they wanted to use her for.
They haven't even let us hold a memorial service for her, as is our custom, three days after the death. She was buried in Behesht Zahra in southern Tehran on Sunday. They asked us to put her in a section where they already had open graves ready for the protestors they have killed or are planning to kill. The authorities know she has become a symbol of injustice of this regime for the rest of the world so they are scared to let us hold the memorial. But how can we mourn her this way, how can we celebrate her life if they won't let us do it?
Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau