Freedom from Torture - An excerpt from 'Lost and Found' by Neda

An excerpt from 'Lost and Found' by Neda

Write to Life says:

Music is important to human life everywhere, and Write to Life was keen to develop a work about the place of music in their lives, which would also give them a chance to sing themselves. This became an artistic collaboration with Christine Bacon from Ice&Fire and singer/songwriter Ana Silvera and was supported by London’s Roundhouse as the venue for the live packed house launch of Lost and Found. Download the binaural musical of the work here.

Neda writes:

In 1980 the Islamic regime came to power in Iran. I was a child, but still I can clearly remember the distress my parents went through. All at once, they had to destroy all their books, pictures and musical instruments because they were considered Haram (against Sharia law). My parents discussed together what do they should do with those things. Eventually, they burnt the books and pictures and also dug a pit and buried his violin. It is still buried there today.

I appreciate Freedom from Torture and Write to Life for having given me and other refugees the chance to speak, write and share our experiences. For me, what I have been through since that time in 1980 has been agony and I have found it very hard to open up about it anywhere else except with Write to Life.

An excerpt from 'Lost and Found' by Neda

I was a child when it started.


Whatever was good just turned around 100% opposite.

Not a tiny shift, totally opposite.

Stress because you hear the protests, you hear gunshots, you hear running,

voices and screaming and just chaos.

We couldn’t go outside, we would run inside.

Everywhere news, radio, just talking about the revolution.

I saw executions. Hanging. Stoning. Very easy to see. In the middle of the



I tried to do small things. I never gave up to be opposite.

Drinking water in public when it was Ramadan

Moving my hijab two inches back

Or wearing make up

When I released my feeling I felt better. It felt very good. I did something

against them.


People did fall in love.

Even in those times

It happened.

But I think it was a minority.

Did I tell you about my cousin?

Her boyfriend was driving.

Just driving


She was in the car and that’s it!

They arrested her and beat her

She lost her job as a teacher

My uncle had a heart attack because of it

And it affected the whole family.

I was 12 and I promised myself

I will never love anyone.

I just made that decision.


Because if you get in trouble, no one can save you.

At university there was a man who liked me

I got more distant the more he said he loved me.


Like - you are more lovely than the petal of a flower.

You take me far and then you bring me back.

I thought


Just run Neda.

It is just love.

Not life.

Turn it off.


Then it was the time when we had to destroy everything that was beautiful.

We burned every photo album we had.


All the books.

Even romance books.

We broke the music records.

They stopped children’s cartoons. I missed them. I was crying.

My father’s musical instruments. They were considered haram.

Against Sharia law.

My father loved playing his violin.

At that time there was a very popular man, Parvis.

My father loved the way he played and tried to perform like him.


I watched my parents discuss

My father said we have to get rid of it

I watched them dig a very deep hole

And my father buried his violin

He thought

Maybe one day I can go and find it again.

For further information about torture in Iran, read Freedom from Torture’s 2017 report, Turning a blind eye: Why the international community must no longer ignore torture in Iran.

All accompanying art for Write to Life’s 20 pieces for Refugee Week is by members of the Open Art Studio group at Freedom from Torture.



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