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Caspian and Neda

Caspian Makan



by Rhonda Spivak, , March 28, 2011

 The Jerusalem Post

‘It will be a long and difficult path, but we'll get there'

Iranian dissident Caspian Makan speaks out in memory of his slain fiancée, hopes for secular, democratic government in his country


WINNIPEG – Caspian Makan, whose fiancée, Neda Agha- Soltan, was shot in cold blood on the streets of Tehran in the post-election protests of 2009, fled Iran through the mountains, partly on foot, after being jailed, tortured and finally released on bail.

Neda became a global symbol of the Iranian people’s quest for freedom. Makan, meanwhile, has been watching this year’s protests in Iran from his home in Canada, where he was granted political asylum.

Neda’ s death on June 20, 2009, caught the attention of the world because her murder by Iranian police during protests after Iran’s fraudulent elections was caught on a cell phone video and broadcast throughout the world.

Makan produced a video as a tribute to Neda, releasing it on what would have been her 28th birthday on January 23, as a way for the world to remember her and her message.

Makan, who was jailed six days after Neda’s death in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, believes that there will “absolutely” be more protests against Ahmadinejad’s regime.

In an in-depth interview, conducted with the help of a Persian interpreter, Makan told the dramatic story of his imprisonment and escape from Iran and explained what he believes can be done to hasten the Iranian regime’s demise.

While living in Iran, Makan worked, from 1995, as an “independent writer, documentary filmmaker, professional photographer and journalist,” who “specialized in history and nature.” He worked both in Iran and various other countries.

Makan remembers well what befell him six days after Neda’s death, on June 26, 2009.

“I was arrested in my home while I was getting ready to go to Neda’s family’s home. My house, which was in Tehran, was surrounded by security forces and I was arrested and taken to the Evin Prison, where political prisoners are taken."

“I was also politically and socially active,” he says. “My activities included giving speeches, writing articles, taking pictures and making movies which sometimes resulted in my arrest and short-term incarceration. I had official memberships in various writers associations and photography associations, but I was never a member of any [political] group or organization and was always independent.”

After Neda’s burial, which took place 20 hours after her death, Makan “remained quiet and awaited the response of the regime,” but when there “was no logical reaction or response from them, and no satisfying answers, I started doing interviews against the Islamic regime.”

According to Makan, immediately after Neda’s death the regime forces threatened Neda’s family.

“The regime told Neda’s family they should not do any interviews about Neda’s death and could not give any opinions, because the regime wanted to write up a different and false scenario for Neda’s death. But by exposing the regime and giving interviews about how Neda was really killed, I did not allow the regime to be successful in their plans to hide the cause of Neda’s death.”

Makan says he first spoke about Neda being killed by “Islamic regime agents,” but then “I expanded [the scope] of my interviews to discuss the oppression of the Iranian people by the Islamic regime and the brutality of the regime, without censoring myself in any way. I also spoke against Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad in regimesponsored media.”

Makan says he really wanted to let the people of the world know about the brutality of the regime and believes he succeeded, because while he was being tortured in prison, “they would tell me that the damage I had caused to the regime was irreparable.”

According to Makan, from the first day after Neda’s death up until his arrest, the “regime agents started asking many questions about my relationship with Neda.”

Although Makan had been arrested, a medical student, Arash Hejazi, who had been present at the scene of Neda’s death and had tried to save her, “continued to expose what had happened to Neda and how the regime was responsible for her death.”

Makan said that the regime tried to mislead and confuse people by suggesting that he and Neda had previously known Hejazi, which “was not the case.” Hejazi escaped to England.

Additionally, he said Neda’s music teacher, Hamid Panahi, who is now in Tehran and was the main witness to her assassination, was also arrested and jailed for “about a week.”

On being arrested, Makan faced a number of charges, including working to overthrow the regime and damaging its reputation irreparably. The regime’s agents said that they had four reasons to execute him.

“Firstly, I had conducted various interviews with international media against the Islamic regime and in support of the freedom loving people of Iran. Secondly I had exposed... [that] Neda had had been killed by regime agents."

“Thirdly, as a journalist… and responsible Iranian, I felt like I had to expose what… the regime was doing to the people. When they arrested me, they discovered and confiscated numerous notes and pictures about the murders and oppression by the Islamic regime… After my arrest, they found certain writings and pictures belonging to me which made it clear that I was opposed to the Islamic regime."

“Lastly, in various interviews with regime-owned media, I condemned the behavior of the heads of regime, including Mr. Khamenei and Mr. Ahmadinejad,” he says.

Another reason that Makan’s life was in danger was because, although he was born a Muslim, at age 30 he chose to become a Zoroastrian.

“According to Islamic law, changing one’s religion from Islam is punishable by death. The regime had documentation to that effect that I had

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.