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Prominent Iranian Photographer Refuses State Honor

Maryam Zandi (center), the head of the National Society of Photographers
Maryam Zandi, the head of Iran's National Society of Photographers, has refused to accept a state decoration offered by Iran's Culture Ministry.

In a letter to Culture Minister Mohammad Hosseini, Zandi, who is best known for her portraits of prominent Iranian cultural figures, condemned the "insecurity" Iranian photographers are facing, and said that she has no desire to accept the award.

"Unfortunately at a time when photography and photographers have increasingly come under attack and have no security in their work and life in Iran, and when a number of them have been beaten up over their work, jailed, or are waiting for their sentences, and at a time when a number of [Iran's] photographers have been forced to flee to the four corners of the globe and live under [difficult] conditions, and when I have to be afraid to use my camera in the streets out of fear, and when the work of some of my colleagues cannot be published without censorship -- under such conditions I don't see any reason or desire to accept this document," Zandi said.

Hasan Sarbakhshian, one of the photojournalists who fled Iran following the postelection crackdown, told RFE/RL in April that photojournalists have suffered as a result of taking and publishing photos of the brutal crackdown that followed Iran's disputed presidential vote one year ago.

"They say when there is a storm, it [affects] everyone, and I think particularly because the Iranian government paid a heavy price for the photos and images of the [postelection demonstrations], photographers were harshly punished. It [is to be] expected in a place where there is no freedom of expression," Sarbakhshian said.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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