Soudabeh Ardavan: Iranian Painter

b16_v.jpgSoudabeh Ardavan was on the Iranian left. She wanted the Shah out, believed that Khomeini was the right choice to replace him, and spent about 7 years in Iranian prisons during the 80s, beginning in 1981. She was able to emigrate from Iran, and now lives in Sweden.

From the Holy Crime website:

She was arrested at home when members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard came looking for a 17-year-old boy in her building; they told her they had a report of her taking part in a demonstration. She was blindfolded and taken to Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

There Ardavan painted the sad faces that surrounded her, using moist tea dregs for color. Her brush was fashioned from a toothpick, strands of her own hair and string pulled from her prison garb. It was her most valuable possession in captivity, where art was her only refuge.

She related the story of four young friends who communicated by tapping on the prison walls in code. One, Sohela Darvishkohan, hanged herself because she was forced to endure five floggings a day, at each prayer time, for refusing to turn from her secular ways and become a pious Muslim. “Become a religious Muslim, or die,” the wardens told her, according to Ardavan, who depicted the three surviving women in a state of shock with tears streaming down their faces.

Find more of her story at Artists for Peace, Justice, and Civil Liberties , The Iranian, the Iranian Voice, and more at Amnesty Press (in Swedish!).

H/T: Hamid Tehrani at Global Voices

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