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Starting a New Life of Political Freedom: An Iranian Refugee Story
Javad's Yearning to Express His Ideas Freely Has Brought Him to the United States
Javad is a person hungry to explore the many creative avenues that spark his thirst for life, traveling over 6,600 miles to do so.
A deeply spiritual person, Javad is an artist, a writer, a filmmaker, a carpenter and welder who builds muscle cars and plays the violin. He is also an Iranian political refugee who Opening Doors welcomed to our Sacramento community just eight weeks ago.
Javad found that his art stirred controversy and conflict in Iran after the Islamic Revolution. The government did not want his films that shed light on Iran’s underground societies shared with the local population. Repeatedly censored and frequently imprisoned, Javad was tortured to the point where those close to him found him unrecognizable.
Facing increasing peril for opposing Iran’s increasingly repressive government, Javad finally took a bus to a town near the Turkish border, and walked a day and a half to an isolated border crossing. Waiting until most of the crossing guards went to lunch, he seized the chance to speak to two remaining soldiers and entered Turkey without a single rial (the Iranian dollar) to his name.
While waiting to be admitted to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, Javad beautified the city of Istanbul by painting buildings and adding artwork to the side of the roads. He continued editing and recording movies, and even adopted a wolf cub.
After two years in Turkey, Javad was finally granted refugee status and authorized to come to the United States. He says it saved his life. On his way here, he wondered what his life would be like in America. His biggest hope was to share his art and passion for life without fear of imprisonment.
Javad was elated that there was someone at the Sacramento airport welcoming him to his new home—our Refugee Resettlement Program Director, David Dauer. David shared that he will always remember how appreciative Javad was as he joyfully proclaimed, “I am finally free!”
Opening Doors provides Javad with access to a simple furnished apartment for a limited time while he gets oriented to our community’s transportation and employment systems. Since his arrival, Javad has been going to language classes, looking for employment, and reaching out to the music community in Sacramento through a local music store.
Javad traveled far to avoid the censorship, imprisonment and torture that were his country’s response to the desire for creative self-expression. While he misses his family and friends in Iran, his need to live freely transcends feelings of longing. Javad will now be able to continue his life’s work and share it with his new community. We look forward to sharing more of his story as he continues to build a new life for himself here in Sacramento.