Remembering Neerja Bhanot

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“Neerja Bhanot was the senior flight purser on Pan Am Flight 73 flying from Mumbai to the United States, which was hijacked by four armed men on 5 September 1986 at Karachi airport in Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying 361 passengers and 19 crew members.

The hijackers were part of the terrorist Abu Nidal Organization and were backed by Libya. They were targeting Americans and American assets. Right in the early minutes of the hijack, they identified an American citizen, dragged him to the exit, shot him dead and threw his body on to the tarmac. The terrorists then instructed Neerja Bhanot to collect the passports of all the passengers so that they could identify the other Americans on board. In a remarkable act of courage and compassion, Neerja Bhanot and the other attendants under her charge hid the passports of the 41 Americans on board; some under a seat and the rest down a rubbish chute so that the hijackers could not differentiate between American and Non-American passengers.

After 17 hours, the hijackers opened fire and set off explosives. Neerja Bhanot opened one of the doors, flung open an emergency chute, and started assisting passengers escape the aircraft. Instead of disembarking, Bhanot decided to stay on board to assist deplaning the passengers in a hurry. Bhanot was shot while shielding three unaccompanied American children from a hail of bullets of the hijackers. Out of a total of 41 American passengers, two were killed during the hijacking. Neerja Bhanot was recognized internationally as “the heroine of the hijack” and became the youngest recipient of the Ashok Chakra Award, India’s most prestigious gallantry award for bravery during peace time. Neerja Bhanot posthumously received multiple awards for her courage from the United States government, and Tamgha-e-Insaniyat from Pakistan, an award given for showing incredible human kindness.”

Source: Wikipedia

Never before seen Tiananmen Square photos found in shoebox

The China Girls

It was a black film canister, rattling around the bottom of an old Naturalizer shoebox labeled “photos.” I opened it, wondering if it was a roll of unused film. Instead, I found a twist of white tissue paper wrapped around tightly rolled black-and-white negatives. I held them up to the light. At first I saw…legs.

Tiananmen legs

Then, people with bicycles.

Tiananmen bicycle people

Wait, that looks like the Monument to the People’s Heroes. Is that Tiananmen Square? With banners? Tiananmen monument

Next, a white form rising above a crowd, holding…a torch?


Oh man, is this what I think it is?

On Sunday night, I was searching through my parents’ photos for a piece I was writing on Tiananmen Square and my father, when I stumbled across two rolls of negatives that appeared to be from the 1989 student democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. I was stunned. I had no idea where they were from, why my parents had…

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Iranian Basij Kills Young Woman (Neda Agha-Soltan)

WARNING: A girl dies in this video. If that’s too much for you to handle, don’t watch it. I come close to tears when I see it, and I’m a cynical bastard.

In this video a young woman named Neda Agha-Soltan dies on a Tehran street from a gunshot wound. Reportedly she was killed by the Basij, an Iranian paramilitary group. Sources inside Iran claim that 30 to 40 people have been killed in today’s protests in Tehran.

“At 19:05 June 20th Place: Kargar Ave., at the corner crossing Khosravi St. and Salehi st. A young woman who was standing aside with her father [was later identified as her music teacher] watching the protests was shot by a basij member hiding on the rooftop of a civilian house. He had clear shot at the girl and could not miss her. However, he aimed straight her heart. I am a doctor, so I rushed to try to save her. But the impact of the gunshot was so fierce that the bullet had blasted inside the victim’s chest, and she died in less than 2 minutes. The protests were going on about 1 kilometers away in the main street and some of the protesting crowd were running from tear gas used among them, towards Salehi St. The film is shot by my friend who was standing beside me. Please let the world know.” — Note accompanying the video.

According to the UK’s Guardian newspaper (06/29/09):

“The Iranian authorities have ordered the family of Neda Agha Soltan out of their Tehran home after shocking images of her death were circulated around the world.”

“Neighbours said that her family no longer lives in the four-floor apartment building on Meshkini Street, in eastern Tehran, having been forced to move since she was killed. The police did not hand the body back to her family, her funeral was cancelled, she was buried without letting her family know and the government banned mourning ceremonies at mosques, the neighbours said.”

“We just know that they [the family] were forced to leave their flat,” a neighbour said. The Guardian was unable to contact the family directly to confirm if they had been forced to leave.”

According to the UK’s Times newspaper (01/08/10):

“Supporters of the Iranian Government have for a second time desecrated the grave of Neda Soltan, the student whose shooting during a street demonstration last June made her a worldwide symbol of the opposition.”

“Photographs obtained by The Times show that the black marble slab on which her face is engraved has been pockmarked by bullets even though security agents guard the grave around the clock to prevent it from becoming a martyr’s shrine.”

“Ms Soltan’s family put the new tombstone in place on December 14 after the previous one was smashed in mid-November. Her parents discovered the fresh damage on December 31 …”

Neda Agha-Soltan

Neda Agha-Soltan
1982 – 2009
Murdered by Iranian Regime