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Against Oppression—Kianoush Ramezani’s Drawings

Kianoush Ramezani-Election

by Vivian Lee

A green ribbon tied to a forlorn tree stump, its shadow creating an outline of a human hand. The index and middle finger are raised—a peace sign. This cartoon, by exiled Iranian artist Kianoush Ramezani, comments on Iran’s budding Green Movement. The movement, and the cartoon, has stirred up controversy.

After Iran’s presidential elections in 2009, 150 Iranian intellectuals, journalists and bloggers were forced to leave the country after intense government pressure and oppression. Ramezani decided not to practice self-censorship after postelection repression, and instead created many cartoons reflecting the country’s own political unrest. But after seeing many of his close friends incarcerated, Ramezani knew there was no choice but to leave his family and his home. Ramezani relocated to France, where he is seeking political asylum.

freeDimensional learned that Ramezani was living on the streets in Paris, unable to afford housing. Ramezani was the first recipient of the Creative Resistance Fund, which annually awards an exiled artist with one travel and accommodation grant. Now, he can help those protesting against the new regime, work peacefully with his new group, Iranian Green International Cartoon Exhibition, and publish cartoons about the crackdown and repression of the Iranian people, all without fear of being censored or going to jail. His new work reflects on his status as a refugee. He says that his next pieces will definitely be about “a person with a body or soul that is incomplete that is kept away from his homeland.”

freeDimensional, organized by Todd Lester, Hugo Espinel, and Alexandra Zobel, seeks to protect artist-activists who live in oppressive countries by providing a safe space for artists to peacefully explore in their medium of work while also working as activists. For more information or to help this cause, visit their website.

Illustration courtesy of the artist.


Anonymous's picture
Working against oppression

Although I am presently being subjected to oppression in a country that claims that it is democratic and free, I happily show solidarity with my fellow artists and activists globally. No-one should be allowed to suffer through homelessness, statelessness, or even strong state oppression for being a defender of rights. I have already been subjected to state torture and by next week, I may well be in put in prison for fighting for those Black rights. For this reason 'democratic' Britain is a falsehood. Wish me luck!
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