Marina Nemat

Marina Nemat (Persian: مارینا نِمت‎, Russian: Марина Немат; born 22 April 1965) is the author of two memoirs about her life growing up in Iran, serving time in Evin Prison for speaking out against the Iranian government, escaping a death sentence and finally fleeing Iran to go and live in Canada.

Marina Nemat
Born (1965-04-22) 22 April 1965 (age 55)


Nemat's grandmothers were both Russian, and she was brought up in a Russian Orthodox Christian family in Tehran.[1] Both her grandmothers had, with their Iranian husbands whom they had married before the Russian Revolution of 1917, fled from Russia to Iran as part of the massive wave of migration that had started.[2][3] Her father worked as a dance teacher, her mother as a hairdresser.[4] She was a high school student when the secularizing monarchy of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution. As a student Marina Nemat opposed the oppressive policies of the new Islamic government, attended demonstrations and wrote anti-revolutionary articles in a student newspaper.[4]

On January 15, 1982, at age 16, Nemat was arrested and imprisoned for her views against the revolution.[4] She was tortured in the notorious Evin Prison well known for atrocities against political inmates, and sentenced to death.[5] She was rescued by a prison guard, who also obtained commutation of her sentence to life imprisonment. However, after five months of imprisonment, it became clear that Ali had developed an attachment to Nemat and intended to force her to marry him.[5] Nemat did eventually marry the guard and was released from prison; he was later assassinated.[4]

Nemat later married Andre Nemat.[6] They escaped to Canada in 1991 and have two sons. Nemat worked at the Aurora franchise of the Swiss Chalet restaurant chain, and wrote her life story in 78,000 words.[4] She knew that many victims did not want to talk about their fate.[5]

Today, Nemat teaches memoir writing part-time at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies,[7] and regularly speaks about her experiences in front of high-school classes, universities, libraries and associations. She is a regular participant in the Oslo Freedom Forum. In 2012 she was a guest speaker at the San Francisco Freedom Forum of the Human Rights Foundation along with Aung San Suu Kyi and Garry Kasparov.


Her book Prisoner of Tehran has been published by 27 publishing houses around the world (2012).[8] In April 2012, a theatre adaptation of the book was staged at the Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto under the direction of Maja Ardal. In 2014, Nemat also collaborated with Motus O dance theatre to create a multi-disciplinary work based upon the memoir consisting of "a combination of the spoken word, movement, video and music."[9][10] In November 2016 the production was performed at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.[11]

In 2010, Nemat published another book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed.


  • Prisoner of Tehran: a memoir (2006). New York: Free Press. ISBN 9781416537427
  • After Tehran: a life reclaimed (2010). Toronto: Penguin Canada. ISBN 9780143178767


Marina Nemat was awarded the first Human Dignity Prize in December 2007. This prize is to be given annually by the European Parliament and the Cultural Association Europa 2004. The Human Dignity Prize "celebrates organizations and individuals working for a world free from intolerance and social injustice, a world where fundamental human rights are respected."[12] The Prize Committee said that Nemat was chosen "because of her strength of character despite her life experiences."[13]


  1. ^
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Marina Nemat.Prisoner of Tehran: One Woman's Story of Survival Inside an Iranian Prison Simon and Schuster, 6 mei 2008 ISBN 978-1416537434 p 13
  4. ^ a b c d e Michelle Shephard (Jan 30, 2005). "The woman without a past". Toronto Star. p. A05.
  5. ^ a b c Shephard, Michelle (2007-04-22). "My home, my horror: An Aurora mother's book details her prison ordeal in Iran". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2007-05-21.
  6. ^ Flight from Iran Archived 2011-09-27 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies: Instructor biography Archived 2014-09-15 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Marina Nemat - Slopen Agency".
  9. ^ "PRISONER OF TEHRAN". Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  10. ^ Cook A, The East “Saint John’s Imperial Theatre Announces Their Twenty Fourth Season” 2017 6 June. Retrieved 31st January 2019.
  11. ^ Canadian Museum for Human Rights “Prisoner of Tehran Performance and Book Signing” Retrieved January 30th 2019.
  12. ^ "Toronto author Marina Nemat awarded first". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  13. ^ National Post, Saturday, December 8, 2007


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