Iranian Student Killed in Riots Named 'Person of the Year'

British paper Times explains death of 26-year-old Neda Agha Soltan became a symbol of opposition to tyranny.

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This article was originially published on December 26, 2009 and republished after PM Netanyahu referenced Neda Agha-Soltan during his address at the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, 2017.

The British newspaper Times named an Iranian woman killed in post-election riots in Iran as its "person of the year."

The Times explained that 26-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan became a "symbol of opposition to tyranny" when a 40-second clip documenting her tragic death at the hand of Iranian authorities was seen by millions around the world.

The riots erupted immediately following the announcement of a landslide victory for incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran's presidential election in June. Opposition supporters demonstrated en mass over allegations of election fraud.

"Ms. Soltan, 26, joined the protest because she was outraged at the way that the regime stole the presidential election," the newspaper said on its front page.

"Even if a bullet goes through my heart it's not important," Times quotes Soltan as having told her fiance. "What we're fighting for is more important. When it comes to taking our stolen rights back we should not hesitate. Everyone is responsible. Each person leaves a footprint in this world."

The choice risks angering Iranian hardliners who claim that Soltan's death was staged for the purposes of propaganda.

On June 20, 2009, Soltan was sitting in her car inTehran, accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, and two others. The four were on their way to take part in the weeklong post election protests. The car's air conditioner was not working, so she stopped her car some distance from the main protests and got out on foot to escape the heat. She was observing the protests when she was shot in the chest.

The video of her death, documented by a mobile phone camera, spread across the internet virally, quickly gaining the attention of international media and viewers.

Iran last month reportedly denounced Oxford University after one of its colleges set up a scholarship in honor of Neda, accusing it of joining a "politically motivated" campaign.