Saturday, June 07, 2008

Visions of Freedom

BEHNAM ASKARI is an impressive young artist, a pleasant and polite young fellow, whose talents and imagination won him a place at St.Martin's school of art in London and whose bright and colourful work has already been exhibited and praised.

Ah, the carefree life of an artist...Well not quite.

Behnam came to this country from Iran with his parents at 15, when his dad got a post in London. It was when his Dad returned to Iran for a visit that the trouble began.

The Iranian authorities had arrested two
students over an illegal political leaflet, and found they had been staying at the Askari family's flat in Tehran. Mr.Askari was arrested and interrogated. When he managed to get a message to his wife in London it was to warn her and his two sons not to return to Iran.

Behnam and his mother have been told they could be arrested, flogged and imprisoned if they do return.

But the Home Office in Britain does not apparently see this threat as anything to worry about. Since the Askari family were not seeking asylum or refuge when they came here, it is unwilling to grant them the right to stay here now.

Friends, including a former teacher of Behnam's , have rallied to oppose the
threatened deportation into the hands of their persecutors.

This week an exhibition of Behnam's work opened at the Watermans Arts centre in Brentford, west London. It is on till June 29. It is a chance to see some fine art and support this family's right to remain in freedom. Visions of Freedom is the title of Behnam's exhibition.

Buses 237 or 267 from Gunnersbury or 65 from Ealing (or Kingston) run by Watermans Art Centre.

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