Azin Anvar Haghighi

6x6 Asia Talent: Azin Haghighi, Iran

“Azin Haghighi has a rare sensitivity in his photographic approach and spends a long time on sensitive projects. This young talent offers viewers unique and disturbing situations and invites them reflect on the current living conditions of Iranians.” - Peggy Porquet, France, editor in chief of GlobalGeoNews, art director, curator and 6x6 nominator

Azin Haghighi began his career in 2008, and has been a member of the International Federation of Journalists since 2018. He has been awarded and received honorary mentions at several festivals, including in 2017 the 11th Annual International Color Awards USA, The Miners Photo Festival, Heart of Tehran Prize, and the Sienna Photo Festival in 2015, among others.

The coal industry faces international sanctions

In January 2016, after a partial lifting of international sanctions, Iran wanted to diversify its sources of income beyond oil. The country opened $ 29 billion of mining projects to foreign investors to modernize its mining industry. As many of the mines in Iran lack the necessary equipment and machinery, the work is very dangerous. Miners are exposed to gases which can be harmful to their health, or even deadly. Iran has strong mining potential, with reserves estimated at 43 billion tons of 68 minerals, including coal, copper, gold and iron. On 8 May 2018, Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, reinstating US sanctions against Iran. This is of particular concern for the mining sector.

Mentoring the future Basij

The Basij, or ‘resistance force’, is essentially a paramilitary militia of young volunteers, founded on the orders of Ayatollah Khomenei in 1979 with the hope of building a people's army of about 20 million members. Initially, these young volunteers were meant to complement the elite troops during the Iran-Iraq war, and thus become the ‘Chahid’ (martyrs) - tasked with paving the way across landmine-dotted battlefields to enemy lines. In 1988, at the end of the war, Ali Khamenei decided not to dismantle the Basij. Instead, it was turned it into an internal security force and moral militia to be present in schools, and mentor disadvantaged and unemployed youth. These pupils, who are responsible for monitoring their classmates and for ‘spreading the good word’, receive military training in summer camps, led by the Pasdaran. In return for their services, the student Basij are awarded some benefits, such as the reduction of the duration of their compulsory military service, and access to tests that allow them to study at universities.

Discover work by the 6x6 Asia talents and find out about 6x6’s nomination and selection process.