Q&A with Musician Marjan Farsad: “My Hope is for All Political Prisoners to Be Freed”
Editor’s Note: The Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) conducted the following interview with Iranian American musician Marjan Farsad ahead of the release of her new song, “Mahtab” (Moonlight), which was produced by CHRI.
CHRI: What is your song about?
Marjan Farsad: It’s about two of my young and talented friends, Keyomars Marzban and Niloufar Bayani, who have been imprisoned in Iran for the past few years. Keyomars was recently released but Niloufar is still in prison. I can’t imagine what they have gone through under captivity, isolation, and torture. Their detainments also devastated the lives of their loved ones. The extent of the unfairness of these events is unbearable and against everything I know about humanity. My song is about stars that go missing every night. It represents the feeling of recent events in Iran.
CHRI: Tell me about them.
Marjan Farsad: Keyomars Marzban is my dear friend and a comic writer who mostly writes about love and his childhood. His writings are completely harmless, and his books are mostly non-political, though even if they were, that doesn’t justify his imprisonment.
Niloufar Bayani is my best friend’s younger sister. She used to live and study in the environmental field in Canada but went back to Iran to serve her country and help save Iran’s environment, which is in a critical situation. She was among a group of wildlife conservationists who were arrested in January 2018 and framed as spies. They all received shockingly unjust sentences.
CHRI: Some artists avoid talking about politics or social issues. Why do you choose to address them through your music?
Marjan Farsad: I don’t usually talk about politics in my work. But their cases compelled me to speak out, and I felt like I really had to do something about their unjust imprisonments, even if only just writing a song. The song is more personal to me than political. Discussing social and political issues could indeed be risky for artists, but it was important for me to publish this song.
CHRI: What is your hope for Iran’s political prisoners and for Iran in general when it comes to the Iranian people and human rights?
I remember when I was younger and more positive, I used to think that Iran is on the edge of a cliff when it comes to human rights. Now with all the arrests and killings and the tragic shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane, I think it has already fallen off the cliff. The situation is extremely alarming and disturbing, and I can’t imagine how much work needs to be done or what needs to happen for people to start having some basic rights.
My hope is for all political prisoners to be freed. My hope is to see a day when the Iranian people are happy and hopeful. Iran is a beautiful country and it will always be my home no matter where I am.
We need a country that cherishes and empowers our talented young people, not one that imprisons, tortures, and kills them. As Pouya Bakhtiari said in a video that he recorded the night that he was killed at a street protest, I hope for “A better sunrise”.
Pouya was killed in the 2019-2020 Iranian protests. He used to listen to my songs. I had him in mind as well when I wrote this song.
Born in 1983 in Tehran, Iran, Marjan Farsad is a New-York based animator, illustrator, singer, and songwriter. Her debut album “Blue Flowers” was released in 2014, and her second album, White Tree, was released in 2020.
Photo of Marjan Farsad, Credit/Copyright: Nosrat Tarighi