Mansour Koushan (1948-2014)
Mansour Koushan was born in Iran in 1948 and was a driving force in his home country as poet, author, playwright and film- and theatre director. He was forced to flee his homeland along with a whole generation of artists.
Mansour Koushan was one of the founders of an independent Iranian Writers Associasion, and was a strong opponent to the Iranian authorities. In 1998, at the time Editor of Takapoo publication, Koushan was invited to make a speech at the Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression. While he was there, he received news that four of his friends and colleagues from the Iranian Writers’ Associasion had been abducted and killed in Teheran. His name was likewise on the regimes death list. Koushan could not return to Iran and in the year 2000 he became one of Stavanger’s first guest writers.
Lots of energy and friction has been released in the meetings between Mansour and the Norwegian cultural life. He found it one of his main tasks to scrutinize the works of two Norwegian classics, Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun, and many of his countrymen and reading circles in Iran have been able to enjoy his analyses and critical viewpoints. For his theoretical text, Ibsen’s labyrinths, he was, ironically, awarded an Iranian literary award.
One of the most important contributions in Mansours unique career has been the journal JONG-E ZAMAN, Persian Quarterly of Literature, Culture and Art. As often with Mansour’s works, his outreach was global and a row of young, new literary voices were given a space to express themselves.
In 2010 Koushan was awarded Norwegian PEN’s Carl von Ossietzky prize for outstanding work for human rights and freedom of expression. On accepting the award, Koushan said:
In my country, Iran, dictatorship rules in its most despicable form. Never in history has any ideologically based regimes been more threatening and destroying than fundamentalist religious regimes. In the Islamic Republic of Iran’s regime, all civil and political rights are suppressed, and all religious, ethnic and ideological freedoms plodded to the ground (…). But I know with certainty that mine and my colleagues’ efforts are not enough. It is the fate and duty of the writer to link and loop together the free thinking to realise each and every paragraph in the universal declaration of human rights. But this chain will not be strong without the support of democratic institutions and organisations that defend freedom of speech and press and the fight against censorship.
Mansour Koushan passed away in Stavanger, 2014.