Tuesday, January 26, 2010



Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. – Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights. All member states of the United Nations, including Iran and New Zealand, are signatories to this declaration.

The New Zealand Society of Author
s in its role of New Zealand PEN Centre and the Mohsen Hachtroudi Foundation (Paris) invite representatives of all media and the public to attend the press conference shown above.
The purpose of this event is twofold:
(1) to remind New Zealanders that people are being beaten, raped and tortured in Iranian prisons for no other “offence” than exercising their freedom of expression and
(2) to make Iranians aware that there are people in New Zealand, remote as it may seem, who are observing and are concerned about these inhumane acts, which contravene international law.

At the press conference statements will be made by representatives of the New Zealand PEN Centre, the head of the Mohsen Hachtroudi Foundation, Fariba Hachtroudi (who will give the main address), members of New Zealand political parties, including parliamentarians, and other prominent writers and public intellectuals. The event will conclude with the world premiere performance of music for Iran composed by the current Wellington Composer in Residence, John Rae, to texts by Fariba Hachtroudi.

PEN is a worldwide non-profit organisation of writers whose primary purpose is to promote good literature. In the nature of things, emphasis has to be given to literature at risk – for political or other reasons (such as literature in languages not widely spoken). To accomplish its aims the activities of PEN are channelled largely through its four subcommittees: the Writers in Prison Committee, the Peace Committee, the Translation and Linguistic Rights Committee and the Women Writers Committee. Wherever the basic human right of freedom of expression, as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is contravened, PEN will undertake any appropriate and effective measures to rectify the situation. In New Zealand PEN is incorporated into the New Zealand Society of Authors. As a worldwide organisation with centres in more than 100 countries, PEN is in a position to disseminate information about the current press conference throughout the world.

MoHa (the Mohsen Hachtroudi Foundation) is a humanitarian association free of political affiliations. MoHa, the association for the foundation of Mohsen Hachtroudi, focuses its work on education and secularism – conditions essential for the respect of women’s rights and the promotion of democracy. MoHa helps Iranian refugees wherever they are. After her last trip to Iran (2006 and 2009) Fariba Hachtroudi hopes to be able to register her Foundation in Iran in order to help young people and artists in particular inside the country, as was the goal of her father. MoHa is also in a position to disseminate information about the current event throughout the world, including in Iran.

Fariba Hachtroudi, a French-Iranian novelist, essayist and human rights activist, is currently resident at the Randell Cottage in Wellington. The Randell Cottage Trust offers fellowships alternately to New Zealand and French writers, with the support of the French government and New Zealand authorities.

Fariba Hachtroudi was born in 1951 in Tehran. She comes from a family of scholars and professors. Her paternal grand-father was a religious leader who supported the constitutionalists in 1906, against other religious leaders who advocated for governance by Sharia law and the absolute rule of God as a monarchic authority.
Fariba’s father Mohsen Hachtroudi was a learned scholar, often called the “Ommar Khayyam” of contemporary Iran. As a well known French-educated mathematician, philosopher and poet, Mr Hachtroudi was unquestionably considered to be a moral authority for generations of Iranians. Hachtroudi fought his entire life for the promotion of democracy, social justice (most notably women’s rights) and secularism. Fariba’s mother, Robab Hachtroudi was a professor of humanities and Persian literature.

Fariba Hachtroudi received her doctorate (PHD) in art and archaeology in Paris in 1978.
She lived in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 1983, where for two years she taught at the University of Colombo while performing research into Teravada Buddhism.
When Fariba returned to France in 1983, she started, as a journalist, to denounce Khomeynism.
In 1985 / 1986, to understand the daily life of her compatriots, Fariba travelled clandestinely to Iran by way of the desert of Baluchistan. L’exilée, Hachtroudi’s first book, republished by Khomehni Express in 2009, describes her haunting journey.
10 years later, in 1995, Fariba who was much more pessimistic than others, already predicting change and revival “slowly and from within Iran”, decided again to approach the issue by creating a humanitarian association free of political affiliations: MoHa, the association for the foundation of Mohsen Hachtroudi (see above).

At the press conference, we are planning to have readings from Fariba’s Les rives du sang translated by Jean Anderson, the Wellington expert on literary translation, and from Le 12 Imam est une femme translated by Sian Robyns.

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