Will somebody pay for the death of Neda Soltan?

Would you say her murder can change Iran?

Questions:

1. Do you think rulers of Iran are in some way surprised or even scared that video with the death of Neda Soltan became an internet phenomenon and would you say it can have some lasting impact?

2. Do you see any chance somebody will pay for her death?

Answers:

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, Lecturer in the Comparative- and International Politics of the Middle East, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

1. I think that no one including the Iranian government would have expected the scale of the civil unrest after the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The death of Neda has been turned into an iconic symbol of this struggle, which will have a lasting impact on the future of the Islamic Republic, not at least because it indicates the ability of Iranian society to confront the establishment. Iran’s speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, has already indicated that some hardline segments of the security forces are acting unlawfully and need to be brought to justice.

2. Reports from Tehran indicate that human rights organisations, lawyers and some reformist members of the government are collating evidence to prosecute the culprits of the violence, including those who were responsible for Neda’s death.

Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Senior Lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations

1. She will be a symbol, the same way Ahmad Batebi became a symbol in 1999. The Iranian leadership certainly understands the power of the internet, which is why they will redouble their crackdown.

2. Ultimately, no. Back in 1999, there was a trial regarding the storming of the student dormitory, but in the end the convictions were farcical: Perhaps one member of the security forces was convicted of stealing a comb out of the dormitory–no one paid for killing the student, though.

Konstantin Kosten, Program Officer North Africa/Near & Middle East, German Council on Foreign Relations

1. As developments since the death of Neda Soltani so far have shown, no certain lasting impact seems to remain. At the first glance, the ruling elite in Iran might have been surprised but not for a long time. They, too, know how to use the internet and in reaction to this video submitted their point of view. But, should there be a new rise in demonstrations and protest in Iran, also pictures like that of Neda Soltani might get more power, again.

2. It is very difficult, not to say impossible to get the necessary additional video material and also witnesses on this incident to further inquire the death of Neda Soltani. So far, it does not seem that anybody might be prosecuted in this case.

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