Zarah Ghahramani

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Zarah Ghahramani (Persian: زهرا قهرمانی‎‎) is an Iranian-born author living in Australia who wrote My Life as a Traitor, an award-winning memoir of her imprisonment and torture in Evin Prison.


Ghahramani was born and raised in Tehran, Iran in 1981, the daughter of a Kurdish father who was a military officer under the Shah of Iran and a mother who raised Ghahramani in the Zoroastrian faith.[1] Because Ghahramani's family strongly disagreed with the country's conservative rulers,[2] she was politically active from an early age. However, her "rage at the government was a matter of personal style as much as of principle," resulting from the "dos and don'ts" of the life she was expected to live under.[3]

Arrest and Imprisonment[edit]

When Ghahramani was a 20-year-old college student at the University of Tehran, she was involved in student politics. After a period of political activism that displeased the Iranian authorities, she was arrested and imprisoned in the infamous Evin prison.[4] Charged with "inciting crimes against the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran,"[5] Ghahramani was beaten, interrogated and locked in solitary confinement. At the end of her 30-day sentence, she was released.

Because Ghahraman was at risk of being arrested again, writer Robert Hillman helped her to escape the country.[6] She currently lives in Australia.


In 2007 Ghahramani and Hillman published My Life as a Traitor, a biographical account of Ghahramani's life and imprisonment. The book won the award for Australian Small Publisher of the Year for 2006.[7] and was shortlisted for the 2008 Prime Minister's Literary Awards.

Ghahramani continues to write, most recently publishing an essay in the anthology How They See Us, edited by James Atlas.[8]


  1. ^ "Veiled Threats" by James Buchan, The Guardian Newspaper, March 1, 2008.
  2. ^ "Thirty Days in Iran's Worst Prison" by Kiera Butler, Mother Jones, Jan. 4, 2008.
  3. ^ "Color Her Protest Pink (and Floral)" by William Grimes, The New York Times, January 9, 2008.
  4. ^ "Thirty Days in Iran's Worst Prison" by Kiera Butler, Mother Jones, Jan. 4, 2008.
  5. ^ "My Life as a Traitor Archived February 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine." by Zarah Ghahramani & Robert Hillman, Scribe Publications.
  6. ^ "A life on the edge" by Robert Hillman, Herald Sun, September 22, 2006.
  7. ^ "Extract from My Life as a Traitor" (PDF). Scribe Publications. Retrieved 17 January 2008. 
  8. ^ "Book review: 'How They See Us,' edited by James Atlas" by Jim Landers, The Dallas Morning News, January 3, 2010.