I watched Neda Soltani die. I saw the blood streaming first from her mouth, then her nose, her life spilling out of her like a crimson stream in her father's arms. I saw Neda die on a street in a city in a country I've never been to and likely never will. I never met Neda, or her family, never heard her voice. I don't know anything about the way she lived her life, if she was a nice person, if she was married or had children or siblings. I don't know if she was smart or had a sense of humor. I never met her, so I don't know what color her eyes were, or what her favorite food was or if she ever blew milk out of her nose because somebody told her something funny when she wasn't expecting it.
I'll never know if she ever stubbed her toe on something hard and cursed, or if she was a quirky type that liked to watch Bollywood movies. I'll never know what she thought the greatest moment of her life was, or the lowest point. I'll never know anything about what her hopes and dreams were, what she thought about the future of her country, our country, or the world.
It was unlikely that I would have ever met Neda and learned one or two or even all these things. Now its 100% certain that I will never learn these things. Her light has been snuffed out of the universe because she dared to stand on a street with her father thinking about freedom and democracy. Killed by her own countryman, by her own government. A government which sanctions and empowers men to ride around with guns and murder its own citizens on the street in cold blood with impunity. As an American, Neda's murder is a damning and irrevocable indictment of the Iranian regime. It does not deserve to continue.
Neda means "voice" in Farsi. The world will never hear Neda's physical voice again, but the voice of her spirit is calling to the men and women of her country and indeed to men and women everywhere yearning to breathe free.