Age: 56 |
Birth City: آبادان |
Joined on October 02, 2012
Top Channel: Alireza Khajeloo is one of the Iranian political asylum seekers living in the Babrru camp. Although he has been in Albania for two months, he has found a gym where to practice. Ali is a karate, judo and MMA champion in Iran, Asia and Turkey.
“My name is Ali Riza and I was born in northern Iran. When I was five I was a very hyperactive kid and my father took me for karate lessons. I continued it because it is a sport that starts with respect and continues with respect. I slowly climbed higher levels until I received several medals in Iran, from Asia and Europe. In my country I also became coach of the National team. With eight sportsmen we won nine medals”, eh says.
Riza says that both of his parents died in very mysterious circumstances. The fact that his father was schooled in Israel put his family under constant pressure, despite the fact that he even trained the special forces of Iran. His future was destroyed for joining the opposition party of Mehdi Karubi against Ahmadinejad.
“My life in Iran has been very difficult. I was born in a time of an eight year war with Iraq and I have seen blood during my entire life. We are tired of this because Allah created us for seven days, without borders, without flags. He made people free. Only God has the right to take your life”, he explains.
Sport is the only thing he can offer to repay any country that would give him asylum, where, as he says, his life will end quickly.
“Eight years ago I moved from my country to Turkey, where I kept working with my sport and became champion of Asia. I was promised asylum if I won another title but it didn’t happen, so I was deported. After five years in Turkey I moved to Greece, where life is not very nice for Muslim people. I couldn’t find a single mosque. I had to pray often because I needed God. I have no one else besides him. But I had nowhere to go. In Greece I knew some Albanians. I had many students from Albanian who I was training in a fitness center. I also worked as bouncer and professional diver. But Greece is no good place for refugees”, he reminds.
After arriving in Albania two months ago, Ali Riza tells about his first impression in the Kakavija border >>>
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 >>>
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.