Freedom To Publish

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From Publishing Perspectives:

When the United Arab Emirates’ Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi convened a panel on challenges to the freedom to publish at the Sharjah International Book Fair Publishers Conference 2018, a two-time International Publishers Association (IPA) Prix Voltaire nominee was on stage with her: Azadeh Parsapour.

Parsapour is the founder of the London-based Nogaam Publishing, a press launched in 2012 to digitally produce Farsi writings that are censored in Iran. Nogaam makes them available free of charge under a Creative Commons license. Iranian readers can access more than 40 titles so far produced by Nogaam on topics controlled in Tehran including immigration, censorship, LGBT issues, underground music, women, relationships, war,  and extremism.

Parsapour is also behind the Tehran Book Fair Uncensored—sponsored by the International Alliance of Independent Publishers—which is designed to help Persian-language publishers, authors, and translators meet in European and North American cities to disseminate books in Persian, including those censored in Iran.

In September, the Association of American Publishers at its annual meeting in New York City named Parsapour the recipient of its International Freedom To Publish Award, named for Jeri Laber. Because she’s unable to travel to the United States on her Iranian passport, Parsapour sent a taped message to the association’s meeting in which she explained that her name, Azadeh, means free human.

“And 40 years ago,” she told the AAP audience, “almost a quarter of my classmates were named Azadeh because of the revolution in Iran of 1979. Our parents had hoped for a better life. … Now it’s starting to make sense to me.”

. . . .

“For one thing,” she said, “I cannot travel to Iran” and must live in self-imposed exile. “I have been involved with many freedom of speech projects, human rights projects—I cannot name them on the record—many things that are not approved” by Tehran. And so a return to the country would be unwise.

“The other thing I have to worry about,” she said, “is how dangerous for me it might be for someone I’m working with in Iran. It gets really dangerous” for a writer still in Iran whose work, she said, perhaps critical of the regime, is being published digitally in Farsi and thus is widely available and visible.

“For me, the damage is that my emotional connection with Iran is stopped” by her inability to go home. “But I’m living in a free country, I can have protection, and so forth.

“But there’s always a risk. When we established Nogaam” six years ago, “we did risk assessments” and, as a result of that examination of the project, “we offer each writer we work with a chance to use a pen name if they prefer, to keep them safe. But of the 41 titles we’ve published until today, only two or three people have chosen to do that.

. . . .

“But always I worry about my writers,” Parsapour says. “Whenever I hear that a blogger has been arrested, or someone has been arrested because they tweeted something. I’m shivering all day,” worried, she says, that the detained person could be one of her writers.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

The OP reminded PG to be thankful that he deals with first world problems.