Iran's authoritarian regime still gets away with locking up artists and intellectuals for their opinions. (The renowned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi spent three months in prison this year for speaking his mind in public.) The contours of this system of political persecution come to the fore in the most personal and riveting of terms as longtime Iranian dissident, journalist, and author Houshang Asadi talks about (and reads from) his new memoir, Letters to My Torturer: Love, Revolution, and Imprisonment in Iran, in conversation with journalist and author Jonathan Curiel (Al’ America: Travels Through America’s Arab and Islamic Roots) at Berkeley Arts and Letters. The event is co-sponsored by the National Iranian American Council, Amnesty International, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley.
Asadi, who as a committed journalist had faced arrest and repression under the Shah, was arrested in 1983 under the then-new Islamic Republic in a wave of repression against opposing political parties and speech. He spent a harrowing and deeply scarring six years in prison, two of those in solitary confinement. His eye-opening and moving memoir, detailing conditions inside Iran's penal and justice systems for himself and other political prisoners, chronicles a crucial period in recent Iranian history with inescapable relevance for today. Told in epistolary form, the memoir highlights the perverse relationship with Asadi's torturer while in prison, "Brother Hamid," now an ambassador for Iran.
Asadi, who among much else was for a time the editor of leading Iranian film magazine Gozaresh-e-Film (Film Report), has lived in exile in France since 2003. You can find more information about the new book at his website.
7:30 p.m., $6-15
2286 Cedar, Berk