Amir Abbas Fakhravar
Amir Abbas Fakhravar, (Siavash) is an Iranian jailed dissident, award winning writer, blogger, and the recipient of the prestigious Annie Taylor Journalism Award. He is the Secretary General of the Confederation of Iranian Students and President of the Iranian Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. Currently, Fakhravar serves as Research Fellow and Visiting Lecturer at the Center for the Study of Culture and Security at The Institute of World Politics.
Fakhravar was born on July 6, 1975 in the capital city of Tehran. As a gifted student, he started writing at the age of eight and published his first book at the age of 12. He was arrested for his writings and his criticism to the Islamic Republic at the age of 17 when he was still in high school.
Fakhravar spent over five years in jail and suffered brutal torture in jail. His treatments in the Islamic Republic jails have been described as first known example of "white torture" in Iran by Amnesty International. According to Amnesty International, the cells had no windows, and everything was entirely colored creamy white. The meal was white rice on a white paper plate. If he wanted to use the toilet, he had to put a white slip of paper under the door of the cell to alert guards who reportedly had footwear designed to muffle any sound. Fakhravar was forbidden to talk to anyone.
Fakhravar was a writer and a columnist for two major newspapers, "Khordad" and "Mosharekat" in Iran. He had a column called, "Who knows better than people," in which he exposed the wrong-doings of the government authorities against his fellow students.
With the help of his American friends and Iranian dissidents, Fakhravar moved to the United States in May 2006. He met with President Bush, prominent members of Congress, scholars, and policy makers to discuss the atrocities of the Islamic Republic. In July 20, 2006, Fakhravar testified in a historic event before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee of the US Senate.
Fakhravar attended numerous conferences in the US and Europe to discuss the situation of young Iranians, jailed journalists, and political prisoners. He is a regular speaker on the current situation of Iran on college campuses, and the international stage. Fakhravar spoke at a panel with Vaclav Havel, Natan Sharansky and Jose Maria Aznar at the Interantional Democracy and Security Conference in Prague in June 2007.
Fakhravar's father, Mohammad Bagher, was an officer in the Iranian Air Force, who passed away in September 28, 2004 in a tragic car crash. "My father was my world. Upon my release from the notorious 'Evin prison,' I always remember my father waiting outside of the prison gates with a sandwich and a soda in his hands, sweating, anxious, but happily waiting for me with a smile. My father used to say, 'I still can see that you haven't given up, boy.'" Upon receiving his prestigious Annie Taylor Journalism Award in November of 2007, he dedicated the award to his father and told the crowd, "I was arrested in Iran for my writings but you give me an award for my writings. This is the difference between your country and my country."
Fakhravar is the author of three books, an honorary member of English PEN, PEN Canada, and International PEN. He is the President of the Iranian Enterprise Institute, and founder of the Confederation of Iranian Students. Fakhravar currently lives in Washington, D.C. and hopes for a secular democratic Iran so he can go back and fulfill his wish of becoming a writer for children's books.