Iranian poets and song-writers Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, who were sentenced to 11.5 and nine years in prison respectively, and 99 lashes each, have fled their native Iran some time in February 2016 while their cases were still pending, reported Huffington Post.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty published on 25 February 2016, Ekhtesari said “she had to leave because of a lack of hope that an appeal process would lead to her acquittal”.
“Abandoning one’s country is very difficult. It was a tough decision,” she said. “I used to say I have to be in Iran, I need to be in close contact with my audience. I need to see their problems and feel their pain. But I was forced to [flee]. I was forced to leave behind the people that I love, the people for whom I’ve been writing poetry.”
The poet said she believes that the harsh sentences she and Moosavi received were intended as a warning, resulting in other artists and intellectuals practising self-censorship in fear of receiving similar harsh treatment.
“They’re warning poets and writers to watch out. [The authorities] are telling them this could happen to them as well,” she said. “Self-censorship was among the reasons I left Iran. I was becoming afraid of writing. I feared that anything I write would be used by IRGC [Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution] interrogators against me.”
Photo sourced from Fatemeh Ekhtesari’s Facebook page
» Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty – 25 February 2016:
‘I was becoming afraid of writing’: Iranian poet flees because of crippling censorship
» Huffington Post – 19 February 2016:
2 Iranian poets, facing lashing and prison, escape country
» Artsfreedom.org – 15 October 2015:
Iran: Two poets sentenced to flogging and lengthy imprisonment