Iran General NewsIran halts production of ‘Neda’ figures

Iran halts production of ‘Neda’ figures

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New York Times: A factory in Iran has been closed down after trying to mass produce statuettes of people who were killed in the protests that followed last year’s disputed presidential election, among them, Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old who became an icon of the opposition when a video of her shooting was broadcast around the world.

The New York Times

By WILLIAM YONG

TEHRAN — A factory in Iran has been closed down after trying to mass produce statuettes of people who were killed in the protests that followed last year’s disputed presidential election, among them, Neda Agha-Soltan, the 26-year-old who became an icon of the opposition when a video of her shooting was broadcast around the world.

The pro-government Aty News Web site, reported on Wednesday that the factory, located in the eastern province of Semnan, was shuttered after just one month, though officials denied the closure.

The Web site reported that the managing director, identified only by his initials, “H. M.,” had intended to produce Neda figurines and had campaigned for one of the defeated candidates in last year’s presidential election.

It also states that the factory’s 40 female employees were discovered working without hejabs, the head coverings and loose fitting clothes required by Iranian law, and that they were mixing freely with the male members of the staff.

Ms. Agha-Soltan became a martyr for Iran’s opposition, after footage of her death from a gunshot wound was captured on a video that circulated widely on the Internet. Government security forces killed around 70 people in their effort to suppress the protests last year, according to human rights groups.

Neda’s memory was revived in a 70-minute HBO documentary, which was broadcast last week over the Voice of America’s satellite news channel on the threshold of the June 12 anniversary of the presidential election, which the opposition says was stolen. Opposition leaders have called for mass rallies to mark the occasion, though the government is assembling an enormous security force to assure that they do not.

Mass-produced “Neda” statues would have been intolerable for the Iranian government, which has continued to deny that members of the government-financed Basij militia were responsible for her death last June. Iran’s state-controlled media have issued various explanations for her death, including the incredible allegation that a BBC correspondent had arranged for her to be shot as part of a news media war against the country.

In January, Iran’s international English language news channel, Press TV, carried a report claiming that Neda faked her death with the aid of accomplices who later killed her on her way to the hospital.

Last month, the semi-official Fars news agency reported that the Intelligence Ministry had produced a new documentary on Neda that would d contain further evidence that her death was part of a “Western plot.”

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