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Seeking sustenance and inspiration from music and song

14 September 20141 comment
Mortesa Teimouri

Mortesa Teimouri

Iranian asylum seeker Morteza Teimouri thought he would drown at sea days after boarding a dilapidated boat from Indonesia to Australia.

The classical singer and flautist, who fled an oppressive regime in Iran, said he faced arrest if he pursued a career as a performer in his hometown.

“They were controlling me not to… sing and play music. I have been singing for 20 years,” Mr Teimouri said.

He said he was ordered to sign an agreement with the Iranian government to stop playing music at social functions.

According to the 39-year-old, men and women in Iran are forbidden to mix socially.

But his band was allowed to perform for the government officials.

He said living without music was like not being able to breathe.

Mr Teimouri’s inability to earn an income from his profession left him both financially and emotionally destitute.

After attempts to gain a visa at the U.S. embassies in Kabul and Dubai failed, the musician flew to Indonesia where he paid a people smuggler for passage to musical freedom in Australia.

But the journey didn’t go as expected.

“15 days on ocean … it was horrible,” Mr Teimouri said.

He said after just a few days passengers were desperately bailing water from the boat.

“The smugglers didn’t tell us the boat is too old and was going to break.

“We were thirsty, hungry… somebody was sick.

“If I knew it was going to be like that I would not have come that way, I would have found another way,” Mr Teimouri said.

Holding little hope of survival the asylum seeker said he was relieved to make it to Darwin.

In Australia, Mr Teimouri said he was surprised to see musicians singing in the streets without fear of arrest.

Mr Teimouri told how he was invited to Los Angeles to perform on an Iranian television show but wasn’t able to get a visa or enough money to travel there.

He says that music and poetry are his life.

“Many people like my voice and I like to sing my own poems like an opera,” Mr Teimouri said.

“I am rich in poetry and music is food for my soul,” he said.

Now living in Melbourne Mr Teimouri volunteers as a chef at a mosque, sings at a local church and writes poetry.

His prose tackles a familiar local theme – Melbourne’s weather.

He also writes of his longing for a peaceful world.

Hear Morteza sing and talk to AMES about his journey.