Khalil Rostamkhani

Foto: Kaveh Rostamkhani

Khalil Rostamkhani was born in Iran in 1953. As early as at the age of 16, he protested against the Shah’s regime. In 1972 he left Iran and moved to Great Britain where he studied mathematics, physics, Persian and later social sciences. During this time he joined the CISNU, the largest Iranian students association, which organized major solidarity campaigns for Iran. In 1979, driven by the hope for democratic change, he returned from exile. In 1980, he founded the English-language news service Akhbaar Ruz and a few years later opened a translation agency with his wife Roshanak Daryoush. A prominent translator, journalist and publicist, he was editor of Iran Yearbook. During his first prison term in the 1990s, he translated works by Isabel Allende, Vladimir Nabokov and André Gide. In February 2000, he worked for the Heinrich Böll Foundation as an organizer and translator in Tehran to prepare the conference “Iran After the 2000 Elections” held in Berlin in April 2000. Shortly after the conference, Khalil Rostamkhani was arrested in Tehran allegedly because his work for the conference was anti-Islamic and contrary to the interests of the Iranian State. He was sentenced to eight long years, accused of theomachy—“battling God”. During his time in jail he wrote the collection of poems Poetry Behind Bars, which appeared on the Internet in the online newspaper Khalil Rostamkhani is an honorary member of the Canadian and the American PEN associations. From January 2006 to July 2009, Khalil Rostamkhani participated in the PEN Writers in Exile Program. He now lives in Berlin and Munich, working as a translator, and is the publisher of political anthologies in Iran and Afghanistan. In 2012, he contributed to and co-published the bilingual English-Persian lexicon A Handbook of Transitional Justice – A to Z.