Faraj Sarkohi

Foto: Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

Faraj Sarkohi was born in Shiraz, Iran in 1947. He studied sociology and Persian literature in Tehran and Tabriz. As a student, he participated in demonstrations against the Shah and wrote numerous articles critical of the regime. In 1971, he was sentenced to a jail term of fifteen years. When released from prison by the Islamic revolution in 1979, he joined the opposition to the Mullahs’ regime. In 1985, he founded the cultural magazine Adineh, and was its editor-in-chief for eleven years. In 1996, he was considered to be one of the spokesmen of a writers’ initiative against censorship. A year later, he was arrested and condemned to death in a secret trial. Due to international protests of several human rights organizations and PEN, but also some Western governments, the verdict was revised and converted into a one-year prison term. Global public protests prompted the Iranian government to finally grant Faraj Sarkohi a travel permit—in May 1998, he moved to Germany where he was a guest writer of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN). From May 2000 to April 2006, he took part in the PEN Writers in Exile Program. He is a member of the German PEN and has won numerous international awards including the 1998 Tucholsky Prize for politically persecuted writers and the 2000 World Press Freedom Hero Award. Faraj Sarkohi now lives in Frankfurt/Main and works for radio stations and newspapers.