PART VII: We are not dirt and dust, we are the nation of Iran

I helped Emad lie on the office floor, gave him a glass of water and nursed him until he came to his senses. Then we all sat around the table, trying to help one another out of shock, thinking about what to do with that bit of footage.

Emad was still trembling. Hassan was still, staring into space. Muhammad, my partner, who had joined us only after Neda had been shot, was pale. I was the only one who still had some control over himself. Neda’s eyes wouldn’t go away, the gaze, the question . . . Why? How did it come to this?

I pushed the thought away. There were only a few moments to decide. The speed of the Internet connection was slowing down by the minute and this could be my last chance to let the world witness the horror we had just experienced.

‘Give me the video,’ I asked Emad, making sure that Muhammad didn’t know what we were talking about. It was for his own protection.

‘I did nothing to help her!’ Emad said, ignoring my request, ‘I just stood there and filmed . . .’

I grabbed his arm, ‘Listen, Emad. There’s nothing you could have done. But you recorded it. Now it’s our responsibility to let the world know!’

He looked at me in horror.

‘But your face is clear. We have to blur it first.’

‘There’s no time, Emad. The Internet is shutting down exactly for this reason. They don’t want the world to see what’s going on. It’s our responsibility. We owe this to that innocent girl. You don’t want her blood to have been shed in vain.’

The hesitation in his eyes forced me to shout, ‘GIVE ME THE VIDEO, DAMMIT!’

We connected the phone to my laptop. I knew I was putting myself in grave danger. Our vengeful government would not tolerate anyone who dared try to inform the world of its atrocities. But for how long could I stay silent? How much bloodshed would I witness before I finally decided to speak up?

I wrote an email, attached the video, and sent it off to a few friends, a classmate in Oxford Brookes and a professor who had been in touch with me ever since I had been in Iran. I also copied it to a friend of a friend who was currently in The Netherlands. He could upload the video onto YouTube.

Then I clicked Send.

I went to my parents’ that night, soaked in blood. My mother fainted when she saw me. Before I could explain anything, the video was shown on CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, VOA, France 24, almost every news channel in the world. And there I was, my face turned towards the camera, looking anxiously at Emad.

That was my way of looking up to Arash the Archer.

That video was my arrow. And I had put my life into it.