Prague, Czech Republic
For the first time in 11 years, I am carefully watching a very chaotic 5 minutes & 38 second video. Of which, 2’46” are before a government security agent pulls my Canon PowerShot G9 camera from my hand and by accident forgets to turn off the camera until 5’38”. It was around noon on Friday May 29th, 2009. Two weeks prior to the highly controversial Iranian presidential election on June 12th, 2009. I accompanied my 11 years old daughter, Sahar, to watch Friday Prayer and photograph some pictures from the last days of the election campaign using her own Canon PowerShot G9 camera in front of the main entrance of Tehran University. Two weeks earlier in May, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry had sent a letter to Iran’s Guidance and Cultural Ministry asking to revoke my Press pass. This was because I was under investigation for a personal two-year-long project photographing the Iranian Jewish community. Analyzing this video frame by frame and capturing some screenshots helped me understand the situation more. As a press photographer, I had many experiences covering presidential elections before (at least 8 major ones) and I knew in the last days of the campaign, some conflicts would happen between supporters of the two nominees. But because of the increased security of the Friday Prayer ceremony, held every Friday in major Iranian cities, I didn’t see a potential problem. Sahar was interested in photographing social and cultural events, after winning first prize in a children’s photography a year earlier in 2008. I was thinking this would a good opportunity to witness the reality of Iran’s society. And I think she understood very well after this exchange. On that hot afternoon, a security agent grabbed my Powershot and began to question why I was filming and if I had permission to do so. Watching my daughter’s anxious face while my camera recording, after 11 years makes me feel ashamed. She did not deserve to witness that kind of stress at her young age. From another perspective, if we had continued to stay in Iran soon or later she would endure many restrictions and censorships in Iran. I remember after the agent questioned me for half an hour and let us go, only after he deleted my memory card. Sahar told me: “Dad, do not worry about your pictures being deleted. I have mine and he didn't see my camera. I can give you my photos if you need them.” However, after some work, I rescued my memory card the same day and can share it here for the first time. But what can I do with my personal memory watching this footage? There is a lingering feeling of pain.