Javad Parsa

Location: Oslo, Norway
Nationality: Iranian
Biography: Javad  Parsa  I started photography when I was 18 years old. At the beginning I worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Sari, in Northern Iran, to earn some money to buy me a camera. In 2005 I began taking pictures for Fars News Agency in... read on
Private Story
Credits: javad parsa
Date of Work: 11/16/10 - Ongoing
Updated: 11/29/19
In Iran, where I was born, there are two kinds of journalists: those who work for the government and those who try to work independently. In 2005, I became a staff photographer at Fars News Agency, which is closely affiliated with the government. As I traveled across the country taking pictures, I had a growing sense that photography was not only a profession, but also something that required great courage.

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.