Airin Bahmani: Equal on the Mountains

The Iranian-Finnish human rights activist and photographer Airin Bahmani (born 1990) has documented the self-organised miniature society formed by Kurds who have fled from Iran to the mountains in Iraqi territory. The underlying principles of this community are gender equality and participatory democracy. The political and social culture of the community established in the mountains is based on equality and freedom of religion, which are not a reality in Iran’s current political system.

Iranians who flee to the border area come from a variety of backgrounds and are running away for a variety of reasons, including political persecution by the Iranian government. In Iran, many have been subjected to arbitrary prison sentences of several years. Many have been tortured and their family members have been executed. Some of the guerrillas living in the mountains have recently crossed the border between the two countries, while others fled the country already in the 1980s, after the Iranian Revolution.

The self-organised community of the left-wing, Iranian-Kurdish diaspora is a military base. Because of its views on society, the community has been attacked by both the Iranian government and Iraqi Islamist groups, which is why it protects itself using military means.

The photography series was realised with support from the Patricia Seppälä Foundation.


PVF 2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography