When the Shah fled Iran in 1979, the happy, uneventful life that Farzaneh had known was shattered. Promised freedoms were eroded and universities closed in 1980, which led Farzaneh and her university friends to become involved in political activities aligned with Mojahedin.
At the age of 21, Farzaneh was amongst many arrested at a massive protest of an estimated 500,000 people and spent the next five years imprisoned. Her time in prison was harrowing. The conditions harsh. They were tortured and many executed.
‘I spent over two years of my time in a punishment ward where I was transferred in the middle of a cold winter night. The ward’s windows were broken, and the jail was in a deserted landscape which brought an icy cold breeze inside the ward. We could feel the cold deep in our bones. We did not have enough blankets nor clothes to keep ourselves warm.’
Finally in 1990, her parents hired people smugglers to help Farzaneh to escape to Turkey. After ten months in Turkey, with the assistance of UNHCR and the Australian Embassy in Ankara, she was able to travel to Australia to a new life.