Revolution Through Paintings: the DISSIDENT club launches Iranian political prisoners art expo. 

Revolution Through Paintings: the DISSIDENT club launches Iranian political prisoners art expo. 

By Leah Koonthamattam, team < the DISSIDENT club >

“I dont want my daughter to read my poems and learn about the pain of being an Iranian women…”, a powerful line read by Iranian poet, Mahtab Ghorbani at the vernissage of artist Hossein Hajizade Siboni’s latest collection titled Iranian Political Prisoners, at the DISSIDENT club on 1st February. 

It has been over 143 days since the civil protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody has rocked Iran. Though the Iranian people’s fight for their rights and democracy has garnered massive international media and political attention, the Islamic regime has continued with violence and repression against the protestors. As of January 2023, over 500 protestors have been reported dead. 

Siboni’s latest artwork highlights the perseverance of the Iranian activists, featuring political prisoners who have been persecuted for fighting for their rights over the last two decades. The exhibition displays seven paintings, created like seven windows into the individual cells along a prison corridor. A painting shows Atena Daemi, a woman sentenced in 2016 for seven years, for organising a peaceful demonstration to support the children of Kobane. Another displayed Zeinab Jalalian, a Kurdish Iranian women’s rights activist who was sentenced to death for “enmity against god” in 2008. Her trial lasted a mere few minutes and she is still serving a life sentence in Khoy Prison in western Iran. 

“People like Daemi, Jalalian, and Nargress Mohammadi wanted to be the voice of the oppressed, and to fight for their rights. Because of this they suffer, are tortured and locked up in solitary confinement cells of the dictatorship, where they slowly die,” said Siboni.

The opening event saw a large number of activists, journalists and civil society members. “Though we were aware of the protests in Iran before, these paintings truly helped us see it through the perspective of the Iranian people. It was truly impactful to be surrounded by those who have such a personal connection to Iran,” said Joli, a Parisian student who was attending the event. 

“The French government has taken a strong stance against Iran and its oppression of women, but we need the western media and politicians to keep their spotlight on Iran and the revoltion. This is the best way for the western world to support the people fighting for democracy in Iran,” Saeed, Amini, the founder of Association HOMA, which supports human and women’s rights movements against Iran in Paris told the audience.

According to Human Rights Activists in Iran, a group that has been tracking the crackdown on protests, over 19,600 people have been arrested since last September, when the protests began.

“One of the major problems faced by the protesters in Iran is that there is a lack of leadership. Anyone and everyone who is capable of being a strong political voice, anyone who can run for elections against the Islamic regime or be the voice of protest is arrested [and maybe]killed. This is the emergency of this revolution”, Iranian writer and reporter Sirine Alkonost, one of the attendees, explained. “The world needs to help us take these people out of jail, because they are the ones that are needed to lead our democracy.” 

Siboni’s exhibition, Iranian Political Prisoners will be on display at the DISSIDENT club until the 24th February. This is the maiden exhibition of a series of political artists that are going to be on display at the DISSIDENT club in the coming months.

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