Lunch break

Today, Plaza San Blas.

Amy's Party

Tacomania last night.

Behrouz Boochani: Who am I?

The PEN Ten is PEN America’s weekly interview series. In this special PEN World Voices Festival edition, Ari Zatlin interviews Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian poet and journalist who has been detained by the Australian government for more than four years on the remote Manus Island. Boochani’s work will be read aloud tonight for the opening night of the PEN World Voices Festival. Purchase tickets here.

1. How does your identity shape your writing? Is there such a thing as a “writer’s identity”?

I have been living in a prison for near five years and I have been under systematic torture for years. This system is created to humiliate people and destroy their personality. In other words, the system has been trying to take people’s identities by humiliating them. For instance, they have been calling us by numbers for years. This way of addressing people reveals that the system does not want to recognize us as human beings. Living in a situation like this, where every single element of the system is trying to take your identity, it is very essential to retain your identity. It is the key factor to survival, to feel that you are more than a set of numbers and that, importantly, you are human. It also reminds you that you are still alive.

To answer this question, I won’t consider other writers living out of this remote island; but for me, living in a prison like Manus prison gave me a unique setting to create some of my artwork. So this situation had an important impact on my work. Writing always helps me to redefine myself as a kind of human who makes a stand against a system that has constantly been trying to humiliate me to take my identity.

Thinking about identity and understanding is one of the main challenges in my life. I was born in Kurdistan and started to explore and understand the world through Kurdish language, but when I went to school, I had to learn Persian. I can say it was the beginning of this challenge when the system was trying to force me to forget everything about Kurdish culture and language. I was living in Iran, the country was trying to take my identity, and it is still denying that there is a Kurdish nation. I have been living my whole life under a system that wants to define my identity in a certain way and to dictate “who I am.” Definitely, being a Kurd has a deep impact on my works in Manus; and there is no doubt that nature and also Kurdish culture feed my works. It’s a very complicated matter >>>

Mr. & Mrs. Khojasteh

From San Francisco Bay Area on their way to Machu Picchu tomorrow.

Kamran Ghaderi's Freedom Walk

CHRI: On March 21, 2017, Kamran Ghaderi, an Iranian-born resident of Sweden, began walking from Stockholm toward Iran carrying the country’s pre-revolution national flag. In his Twitter bio he wrote that he was “walking to Iran for freedom.”

In February 2018, after crossing 11 countries, he was arrested in Iran at the Oroumiyeh border near Turkey and charged with “propaganda against the state,” “assembly and collusion against national security” and “insulting the supreme leader and officials of the Islamic Republic,” a relative told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on April 10, 2018.

He was released at an unknown date but arrested again in March. It’s not clear whether he was released on bail or the charges were dropped.

“When he crossed onto Iranian soil he was detained by border guards for carrying the lion and sun flag and released a few days later,” said the source who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But it seems the Intelligence Ministry caught wind and arrested him on March 7 and sent him to prison in Tabriz [city].”

“He told us on the phone that there’s a possibility he could be transferred to Tehran but for now he’s in Tabriz,” added the source.

After Iran’s monarchy was ousted following the country’s 1979 revolution, the lion and sun symbol on the flag was replaced with an emblem representing various Islamic symbols including the word “Allah” (God) by the newly established Islamic Republic.

Today, the old flag has become a symbol for some Iranian opposition groups in exile, particularly monarchists seeking the return of the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979).

The source told CHRI that Ghaderi had intended to end his march at Iran’s Pasargadae archeological site, where the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great (559–530 BC) is buried.

During his march, Ghaderi posted regularly on Twitter and gave a number of interviews to Iranian monarchist websites based abroad. The source told CHRI that these interviews have become the basis of the indictment against Ghaderi.

Ghaderi, 48, emigrated to Sweden at the age of 15. His wife and two children have Swedish citizenship but he has never applied for it himself.

Can you hear me now?

"I said I bought food for the llamas." 

Big shark, little tank

On Calle Recoleta.

Sit and watch the madness

Stray dog in Plaza de Armas.

Good morning

Very good morning for Valentino.

Narges Mohammadi 2018 Andrei Sakharov Prize

American Physical Society

"For her leadership in campaigning for peace, justice, and the abolition of the death penalty and for her unwavering efforts to promote the human rights and freedoms of the Iranian people, despite persecution that has forced her to suspend her scientific pursuits and endure lengthy incarceration."


Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian physicist, engineer, and human rights defender currently serving a 16-year sentence in Evin Prison (Tehran), was born in Zanjan in 1972. She majored in physics at Imam Khomeini University in Qazvin, where she became actively involved in promoting rights and social justice by founding a political student organization and publishing on issues related to women’s and students’ rights. After graduating, she worked both as an engineer with the Iran Engineering Inspection Corporation and as a journalist, highlighting issues related to gender equality. Ms. Mohammadi’s efforts to maintain a career in the sciences while speaking out about human rights abuses were unsuccessful. In 2009 she was dismissed from her position with the Engineering Inspection Corporation. The same year, she was arrested and incarcerated.

communities, and other vulnerable groups. She has also been deeply involved in efforts to promote free and fair elections and abolish the death penalty in her country. As spokesperson and vice-president of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), an organization founded in 2001 by Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi and other prominent Iranian lawyers, and closed by the government in 2008, Ms. Mohammadi helped to provide pro bono legal assistance to prisoners of conscience and monitor the human rights situation in Iran. She also served as president of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Peace in Iran, an organization dedicated to opposing military conflict and violence. Together with other human rights activists, she created the Women’s Civil Center, a body that defends the rights of women, political prisoners, and minorities. Her courageous actions in support of human rights have taken many forms, from protests before parliament concerning acid attacks on women to prison vigils with the families of individuals facing execution. Ms. Mohammadi is the recipient of the 2009 international Alexander Langer Award and the 2011 Per Anger Prize for human rights.

Selection Committee:

2018 Selection Committee Members: Don A. Howard (Chair), Robert S. French, Lucas F. Hackl, Joel L. Lebowitz, Shelly Rae Lesher, Usha Mallik, Vladimir Mirnov, Surajit Se