In 2009, during the presidential elections, Fars assigned me to follow the incumbent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the campaign trail. After he won a widely disputed victory and protests surged on the streets, I was stunned when my bosses forbade me to take pictures of the gatherings. Despite their orders, I took photographs of silent demonstrations, Dumpsters on fire and people running past burning buses, and smuggled them out to international publications. One image — of a woman in front of the Azadi Tower with her arms outspread making the peace sign with each hand — was chosen for the cover of Time magazine. Within a few days of its publication, the managing director of Fars threatened to brand me a spy and to testify against me. A few weeks later, I fled first to Turkey, then to Norway as a political refugee, where I have been ever since.
I’m now, documents exile Iranians all over the globe. I have been working for almost 10 years on this project, and this project is my personal story, which also includes the stories of other Iranian immigrants in Norway, Sweden, USA, Canada, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece, Spain and France.
Although we all have different reasons for leaving, everyone I spoke to hoped one day to return home — but to a country where we can vote in truly democratic elections, dress the way we like, choose our own religion and speak, and photograph, freely.