The following speech was delivered at the opening of an exhibition of paintings by the famous Iranian artist Bahram Alivandi in the European Parliament in Brussels on 9 July.
In January 2008 an article appeared in France under the headline "A GREAT PAINTER IN EXILE". This was the perfect description of Bahran Alivandi, a great Iranian modernist painter who wove the themes of Persian mythology and the struggle between light and darkness into his wonderful and vibrant paintings and tapestries.
Bahran Alivandi was not only a great painter he was also a great patriot. He hated the brutal repression and censorship of the mullah's fascist regime and after a brief period of imprisonment escaped to Vienna in 1983, where he remained until his death last year. He was an active member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and through his work, fought for freedom of expression and freedom of thought for the Iranian people.
Mr Alivandi's two sons are in the Iranian resistance in Camps Liberty and Ashraf in Iraq. He wanted very much to visit them during his last few years, but was cruelly prevented from doing so by the Iraqi government. This exhibition, brought here from Vienna by Mr Alivandi's widow Nahid, is a tribute to his life of devotion to freedom and democracy. It is a tribute to the bravery of his two sons and to the 3,200 people of the Iranian resistance who are incarcerated in appalling conditions in those camps in Iraq. It is also a tribute to the NCRI under the leadership of Mrs Maryam Rajavi and their struggle to bring freedom and democracy to Iran.
Bahram Alivandi once said that he would continue to live through his art and his spirit, I am certain, is here this evening, living in these moving and evocative images. He was a great painter in exile and we all live for the day when his exile will end and his great works of art will be restored to their rightful place in the museums and galleries of a free Iran.
STRUAN STEVENSON MEP
President of the European Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq