Kaveh Golestan PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 November 2008 09:51

Kāveh Golestān

Kāveh Golestān

Born: July 7, 1950

Died: April 2 , 2003, Kifri, Iraq

Age: 52

Cause of death: Landmine explosion.

Notable because: Remarkable drive to spread news, in particular via photographs. Documented the Iran-Iraq war including photos of Iraqi use of chemical weapons against the Kurds which affected the worlds position on Iraq and Saddam. 


Kaveh was an Iranian photojournalist. He is the son of the Iranian filmmaker and writer Ebrahim Golestan and the brother of Lili Golestān, translator and the owner-artistic director of the Golestan Gallery in Tehran, Iran. Kaveh was married to Hengāmeh Golestān and Mehrak Golestān is their son.

Kāveh Golestān and his sister, Lili Golestān
Kāveh Golestān and his sister, Lili Golestān

Kaveh Golestān was a freelance cameraman who took the first pictures after nerve gas was used in Halabja. He won a Pulitzer prize for his coverage of the 1979 revolution in Iran and subsequent events. He was killed at the age of 52, as a result of stepping on a land mine in Kifri, Iraq, on April 2, 2003, while working for the BBC. He is buried in a cemetery in the east of Tehran.

Kaveh was born when his father, Ibrahim "Shahi" Golestan, repelled from his journalistic career by Soviet domination of Tudeh, had taken up his next occupation, working for the public relations section of the hated Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. There he honed his skills as both a still photographer and documentary-maker. He struck it rich with a film on underwater security for oil pipelines, which was sold to oil companies worldwide. He invested his royalties in real estate on the fringes of Tehran.

Kaveh was brought up in an intensely political family but attended a rather restrictive school, Ravesh-e-Now, in Tehran. He had his first try at movie-making at 11 with a film called An Autumn, in emulation of his father's film, A Fire, which had won the Golden Mercury award at the 1961 Venice Film Festival.

He was sent to Millfield School in Somerset in 1963, which he also found restrictive in contrast to the 1960s world outside. He organised a pop band and made a record of his musical compositions, which was confiscated by the headmaster. He then left the school and hitchhiked from London to Tehran.

Once there he launched himself as a painter and musician. He also worked on a film his father was making, a cautionary parable about the slide from Shah's rule into revolution. When his father's studio was shut and his film-making terminated by the secret police, Kaveh decided to go into journalism, the craft followed by both his father and grandfather, the editor of an Isfahan daily.

He left for Belfast to cover the troubles there, returning to Tehran to work in the offices of Associated Press and Time magazine. His photo coverage during this period earned him several international prizes, including the Pulitzer for his coverage of the Iranian revolution.

He was then given a job in the London office of Time-Life but found the constant coverage of Margaret Thatcher dreary, especially as the human drama, and revolutionary and war subjects, were so much more exciting - and nearer home. He returned to Tehran to combine teaching at Tehran University with photojournalism of Iran's revolution, the eight-year-long Iran-Iraq war which consumed a million lives, and the Iraqi uprisings in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War.

For the last dozen years or more of his life he worked as a freelance, largely for the BBC. Its world affairs editor, John Simpson, who worked with him in 1988 on the Iran-Iraq war, has paid tribute to his gentleness and his great sensitivity as a photographic artist.

He met his end after working for two months in northern Iraq with BBC correspondent Jim Muir and producer Stuart Hughes. While investigating an abandoned Iraqi fort in Kifri, first Hughes, then Golestan stepped on landmines, injuring Hughes, but killing Golestan.

In 1975, he married Hengameh (Jalali); she survives him, as does his 19-year-old son, Mehrak, who has started following the family trade of journalism.



Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:44

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