taking photos of protests


In exile

Ali Zare In exile

Photojournalist Ali Zare worked for various newspapers and media outlets. During the protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election he was one of many journalists and photojournalists who were arrested. He was interrogated and tortured before being released after 48 hours.

During the widespread protests following the disputed presidential election on June 12, 2009, most foreign journalists were expelled and many Iranian journalists and photojournalists who tried to cover the protests were arrested. Ali Zare was one of at least seven photojournalists who were arrested in June and early July of that year. Authorities arrested him as he prepared to take photographs of demonstrators in Tehran’s Enghelab Street.

"The Iranian government fears images and has embarked on a manhunt for photographers and cameramen in an attempt to ensure that no professional photos or video get out of the country," said Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on July 19 [Persian link]. "Without quality images, the opposition protests and the constant crackdowns will not be reported in Iran or abroad. That would be a failure for all those who defend media freedom."

“I always ask myself: ‘why do I have to be punished for being a photographer?’” Zare said in a short video for RSF. “I am a journalist. This is part of my job. I have to report this situation for the media around the world.”

In the video, Zare described what happened to him after he was arrested. “I was in Enghelab Street and before I started to take pictures, somebody came up to me and told me, ‘please come with us.’ He was Iranian but the two other persons who arrested me were from Lebanon. I don’t know the place or the area [where I was] detained because they blindfolded me. For 14 or 16 hours (I don’t know because I didn’t have my watch) I was in the room where I was interrogated — with a camera, a knife, a stick and electricity. I was electrocuted. Some of them wanted to cut my finger. They told me a funny thing: ‘Please don’t move. I want to cut your finger very artistically because you are an artist and you need to have a nice finger.’ I was been beaten for 24 hours. According to them, every journalist is a spy.”

Ali Zare has left Iran and now lives in the United States.


Updated: May 14, 2018


هفت گزارشگر تصویری از جمله یک فرانسوی ایرانی‌تبار زندانی شده‌اند, Reporters without Borders (RSF), July 16, 2009

“The Plight of Iranian Journalists,” Public Broadcasting System (PBS), November 11, 2009

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