Frontline’s “A Death in Tehran” has long been billed as a documentary re-visiting the June 20, 2009 murder of Neda Agha Soltan. However, the segment focuses more on those who are still alive, and who carry the emotional scars of those who have both lost a loved one and had their government turned against them. The story examines the heartbreaking stories of those close to Neda, from her sister and boyfriend, Caspian Makan, to Arash Hejazi, the doctor who tried to save Neda, Faranak, a former reporter for PressTV, and Bilba Tavakoli, a friend.
Makan, Hejazi, and Faranak are now living in exile but have been consistently threatened by the Iranian government for speaking out about the circumstances surrounding Neda’s death. Hejazi decided to speak out against the government’s attempts to obscure the truth because
in every life a moment comes that the integrity of some person would be tested. I realized on that day that this was the moment in my life. I had to chose between keeping myself safe or proving my integrity.
Faranak left PressTV when, after the election, she became disillusioned with the station’s coverage of the election and joined the protesters. After being shot in the knee with a plastic bullet, Faranak was taken to the hospital where she witnessed Basij forces storming the emergency room and attacking the patients. If Faranak’s testimony is viewed in conjunction with Ahmadinejad supporter Nader Mokhtari’s forceful statement “we will not lose Iran,” then it becomes clear just how far the current government is willing to go in order to maintain its power.
“A Death in Tehran” includes numerous clips – albeit largely from cell phone cameras – of the protests and government’s reactions. Videos of Basij members firing into crowds of protesters provide some of the most chilling images of the entire documentary. Even if the crowd were attacking the militia and military buildings, it is impossible that the Basij firing from the rooftops were strictly targeting the few violent protesters.
What they [the Iranian leadership] don’t want to accept, don’t want to understand, this is the people of Iran. Like the Islamic Revolution that was the people of Iran as well; like the Constitutional Revolution. This is the majority of the people who want freedom, who want democracy, who want human rights,
said former Deputy Prime Minister Mohsen Sazegara when discussing the government’s crackdown on the protesters.
With its investigation of the events leading up to and following Neda’s murder, Frontline provides a chilling, insightful account of the ongoing post-election violence that is taking place in Iran.