Feeling Vulnerable

My dear friends,

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been accepted to do an artist residency in NYC to work on a new project with Tamizdat, AFI (Artistic Freedom Initiative) and Westbeth-Housing to share my family’s story and the crazy ordeal we’ve been through over the past year and a half. This is the best news that has happened to me in a long time. I’ve been given a second chance to do what I love.

On a more personal note, I want to take a moment to share something I’ve rarely spoken about, but one that has finally taken its toll on me. Since the death of my father in Evin prison, I’ve spiralled downwards into a world of depression. I’ve managed to isolate myself from the world, and the loneliness acted as a cloak to protect me from getting hurt again. I projected and misdirected my hate, which encompassed everyone and everything I knew. To put it simply, I couldn’t reconcile what happened to my family while so many people walked away from us and/or sat idly by.

I continue to feel powerless knowing that my mother has been held hostage against her will for over 544 days and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried many things to cope with or help transcend the pain, including plant medicines like ayahuasca and iboga, but the demons (fear) managed to get the better of me, and I drowned myself in a world of vice and sin. Gambling, drugs and sex provided momentary escapes from the overwhelming pain of the present moment. Upon reflecting on it, I see my process as a slow and gradual attempt at suicide, since every time I actually tried to take my own life, it was in vain and I just couldn’t go ahead with it.

Over the past year, I managed to accumulate a large amount of debt and have been carrying this burden, in secret, out of fear and shame. I feel like I’ve let my family, friends and fans down in a way that I could never have fathomed. I don’t know why I was consumed with these habits but it was the only way I knew how to deal with the pain.

I know some of you will have love and compassion while others may react with anger, pity, and judgement, but that’s ok. I would rather share my process directly than have you hear about it through someone else. At the end of the day however, I am fully responsible for my actions and I’m sorry to anyone I hurt in this process.

I don’t have a penny in my name, but I have a heart that’s beating stronger than ever, and a yearning to make things right and my father and family proud. I don’t want to reside in this self-manifested cold and cruel world anymore. I don’t know what will happen next, all I know is that I can’t hold on to this anger and resentment anymore… it’s eating me up from the inside.

I hope that others will hear my story and maybe take away something that may help them in their own path. Those who really know me, recognize that outside my addiction, I have led most of my life in service to others. But over the years, I somehow grew jaded, bitter, and resentful, especially following my father’s death which was the final nail in the coffin. I became selfish and narcissistic, on a mission towards self-destruction. If it wasn’t because of my brother and mother, I wouldn’t even be here to share this story with you. I am in their debt for accepting and unconditionally loving me without judgement, standing by my side, and picking me up from the depths of despair.

And the story has now come full circle, and I’ve found myself back in NYC, where my journey began many years ago. I know deep in my heart that I won’t fuck up this opportunity and the second chance that I’ve been granted by the universe. I will pour my heart and soul into this project and let my creative spirit flow freely again. I am no longer afraid of uncertainty and things outside my control.

Much love to you all.

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National Geographic Follow Up Article

I’m glad that @NatGeo has spoken up about the case of our friends and the death of my father. They have published the following article:


And thank you to Frans Lanting and the greater @NatGeo family for also speaking out against the jailing of innocent environmentalists in Iran. We have to continue being the voice of these prisoners until they are set free. In the words of the great Dr. King “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”

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Dear National Geographic: Please Tell the Real Story of Wildlife Conservation in Iran

I grew up loving National Geographic. My father, Kavous Seyed-Emami, a prominent sociologist in Iran and passionate conservationist, was a subscriber to the magazine when we were kids. My brother and I would eagerly leaf through its pages, keeping an eye out for any mention of Iran.

After decades of working on preserving Iran’s natural heritage, the Revolutionary Guards suddenly arrested my father in January 2018. They didn’t tell our family why. He was held in solitary confinement and had no access to counsel. Two weeks later, we learned that he had died while held for interrogations in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

The Iranian Judiciary refused to heed international calls to launch an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding my father’s death, which officials claimed was a suicide. Instead of seeking the facts or evidence, state-funded media outlets ran smear campaigns claiming he was a spy while refusing to allow us to respond.

We weren’t allowed to conduct an independent autopsy and while grieving my father’s death, were pressured to quickly bury him. One year later, we don’t have any verifiable evidence of anything other than his arrest and death in state custody; we don’t even know the exact date of his passing. On top of all of this, my mother Maryam Mombeini has been banned from leaving Iran to Canada, where we are currently based.

Eight other conservationists were arrested around the time of my father’s arrest. They all worked for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), a non-profit organization that had been licensed to operate in Iran by the government, with the primary goal of saving the Asiatic Cheetah, which are on the brink of extinction with less than 50 left alive in the world.

They have been held mostly in solitary confinement and without access to counsel for the past year under trumped-up security charges and are facing severe prison sentences. This remains the case despite three major state agencies including the country’s Intelligence Ministry contesting the Revolutionary Guards’ claim that they engaged in espionage.

This story has generated international calls for an independent investigation into my father’s death and for a fair trial for his imprisoned colleagues with full access to counsel of their choice. By now, most prominent conservation organizations have also spoken out on this issue.

This is the state of wildlife conservation in Iran, which is why I was so disappointed to see no mention of my father or his colleagues in a recent National Geographic article about wildlife conservation in Iran.

In “From poachers to protectors, meet the rangers of Masjed Mountain” by Kayleigh E. Long published on March 7, 2019, National Geographic has completely ignored the cases of my father and his colleagues. They didn’t get a single mention.

The article is not only irresponsible and infuriating; it is dangerous for not portraying the biggest ongoing story about wildlife conservation in Iran. By failing to mention this important context, National Geographic’s piece is playing into the hands of those who are oppressing conservationists by enabling them to avoid accountability and sweep this story under the rug.

It’s never too late to right a wrong. I strongly believe this article should be revised by adding this important context, and for National Geographic to release a statement in support of fellow wildlife and their fellow welfare advocates, animal protectionists, and environmentalists still in prison.

But You're Not Here...

تولدت مبارک بابا.

با اینکه از بین ما رفتی، ولی یادت تا ابد تو قلب همه ما زنده ست.

خیلی ها تو رو می‌شناختن، ولی حالا افراد بیشتری قدردان زندگی و میراث تو خواهند بود

من معمولا از کسی نمی‌خوام که چیزی رو برام به اشتراک بذاره ولی این بار اگر این کار رو بکنید که بتونیم به دنیا نشون بدیم پدرم واقعا چطور آدمی بود، بی‌نهایت ازتون ممنون می‌شم

Happy birthday dad.

Even though you’re gone, you still live on in our collective heart. Many people know you already. But even more will now acknowledge your life and legacy.


Music is a universal language that brings us all together

Friends and allies, 

Following the unexpected passing of my father in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, my mother has been barred from leaving the country and joining my brother and I in Canada. Since my father’s unjust arrest and subsequent death, our lives have become absolutely shattered. Not only have we faced constant harassment and threats, but our home was also illegally raided twice. The authorities confiscated the deeds to our homes, and everything of value that we possessed. 

Even though we’ve been left with nothing, my brother and I are capable and independent, but the effort to bring my mother Maryam home has been cumbersome. During his life and prior to his suspicious death in prison, my father, Kavous Seyed Emami, built a legacy of love, compassion, and active participation for improving conditions of all living beings. Being a musician, the only way I know to honor that legacy is through my music. 

My brother and I have started the #bringmaryamhome campaign to raise awareness towards our story and once again reunite us as a family. After months of harassment at the hands of Iranian authorities and after the loss of her husband, my mother deserves a second chance at a happy life. She is now being denied that chance by malicious forces that will not allow her to return to Canada; help us overcome this ordeal by joining our campaign to #bringmaryamhome

I am forever grateful for your support, and look forward to seeing you at the shows.

Toronto - Saturday May 5 @ Adelaide Hall
Ticket Link

Vancouver - Saturday May 12 @ Venue Night Club
Ticket Link

Statement from my family's lawyers


“The relevant authorities should be giving answers on the basis of their responsibility at the time of the tragedy, rather than creating a security climate, undermining the reputation of the deceased and hurting the feelings of his family.”

“The expectation is that judicial authorities investigating this case will act firmly and without bias according to their legal duties in helping to clarify the why and how of this terrible national tragedy.” 


As lawyers for the Seyed-Emami family and in view of what has occurred, we find it necessary to give the following statement:

1- From the moment we accepted the case regarding the death of the late Dr. Kavous Seyed-Emami, we have made a serious effort to seek the truth to the extent possible and we hope to remain committed to this case until the very end and strive to be responsive to the respected family and the dear people of Iran.

2- In recent days we have witnessed the publication of a short insulting film about the late Dr. Seyed-Emami by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) organization in violation of our laws and several articles of the Constitution, which failed to take into account the most obvious ethical or humanitarian principles. Accordingly, we will file a judicial complaint against the producers of the 20:30 television program. This offensive film, which aired on the night Dr. Seyed-Emami was buried, not only hurt the feelings of the grieving family, but also the feelings of the great majority of the Iranian people. It’s destructive and dubious objective was to demonize and demoralize environmental activists. Therefore at this juncture we feel it necessary to give a brief explanation about the film before going into detail in our complaint:

The producers of the film, who had no credible evidence against the late Seyed-Emami, resorted to illegal means and used his private family photos as well as other images indicative of his respected status as a credible international researcher, to undermine the reputation of this national treasure.

The picture painted by the malicious producers of this film is completely against the humble and modest character of this great noble man, who made efforts to be alongside youths and encourage them to protect the country’s environmental wealth on the basis of national and ethical foundations.

The film is so unprofessional that it actually works against its producers. In one part it claims that environmental activists were “under intelligence surveillance for the past few years” as they gathered sensitive military information about missile sites. This raises a serious question that if the military information was so important, why did the responsible officials… keep quiet about it for all these years and allow the information to leave the country? Certainly if the information was as important as claimed, then those who knowingly allowed it to be sent abroad also share criminal responsibility.

This film has many legal and logical faults, which we will raise in our complaint to the Culture and Media Court.

3- As we take up Dr. Seyed-Emami’s case with the judiciary’s criminal affairs branch in Tehran, we will file a motion to seek his security file in order to get a clearer picture of this incident. Because of the limitations in the country’s laws, the absence of a lawyer at the initial stages of the investigations undermines its credibility.

4- Since the current case is tied to those of other detained environmentalists and will determine their fate as well, we ask their families to ignore any possible fears and ask lawyers to immediately look into their situation in order to get a better grasp of their condition and take more substantive steps. 

5- Given the national aspects of this matter, and the fact that the great nation of Iran has lost a great treasure who was engaged in constructive planning to save the country’s environment, and while the perpetrators fo this national tragedy are trying to muddy the waters instead of owning up to the judicial authorities, a large group of our colleagues have announced their readiness to assist in various legal aspects of this case and file necessary judicial motions, for which we are grateful in advance.

6- At the present time, information will be disseminated by the family of the deceased on Telegram as well as by his son, Mr. Ramin Seyed-Emami, on Instagram. Information will also be made public through the lawyers. Any news based on these two sources has the family’s approval. 

In subsequent statements we will inform our dear compatriots of every step of this process. 


The lawyers of the late Kavous Seyed-Emami’s family

Arash Keykhosravi and Payam Derafshan




Official Statement from Ramin Seyed Emami (Feb 14)

Before anything else, I want to thank those who in the past few days have given their love and support to the Seyed Emami family. Your presence has given life to Kavous' absence. I also want to thank those -- lawyers, MPs, journalists, and friends -- who have tried to shine light on the ambiguities of this case.

We have a right to know why my father was arrested and the circumstances that led to his passing. In the laws of Iran, this right has been secured. We will use every legal channel at our disposal towards an independent investigation.

In the morning of 12 February 2018 we went to the Coroner's office in Kahrizak, south of Tehran, in the presence of two lawyers, Mr. Keykhosravi and Mr. Derafshan. At the Coroner's, our lawyers were not allowed to accompany us inside to see the body and the autopsy report. We met with three gentlemen. They told us that an autopsy will automatically take place when a death occurs in prison. We were told that even an expedited autopsy report takes 4-6 weeks to release. Also, these gentlemen told us that should we insist on the presence of our lawyers, we need to go to the 27th District Court and obtain permission. This was the same court that three days earlier, on Friday 9th of February 2018, had summoned my mother purportedly to "meet with her husband." Instead, they had interrogated and threatened her for three hours before announcing the death of his husband and having her sign a paper not to speak to the media, otherwise she would be put in prison. Similar threats of harming my dad had previously been issued from authorities and forced us to keep silent during the time he was in custody. From this Court, she had been taken to the Coroner to see the body of her husband. 

In the 27th District Court, my brother and I met with a gentleman in the presence of our lawyers for 2 hours. The lawyers asked to see all documents -- including the case file and closed-circuit video showing inside of the cell. I was the only member of the family to see the video. I want to stress this point because rumors have spread that my uncle has also seen it. None of my uncles have spoken to the media and any statement to this effect is null and void.

I won't speak of the pain of seeing this video, but I will say that nothing in it is conclusive. The actual death is not recorded. All I could see is that my dad is nervous and restless. He is not himself. He paces the cell to and fro. I can say the man in the video (my dad) who goes into a different room, which we were told was the "bathroom," by himself, is not in a sound psychological condition. Seven hours later a body is carried out of that room. The lawyers' request to see the cell was refused. We filed a complaint right there. Also at the Court, I was shown pictures of a body during autopsy. 

In the morning of 13 February 2018, my brother and I, along with several family members went to the Coroner's and having met with the director, received the body. The death certificate we received states that the autopsy report is "pending."

Our family’s wish, first and foremost, is to know why my father was arrested, the details of his interrogation, and to see any files associated with this case. 

گزارشی از وقایع روزهای گذشته


پیش از هر چیز، میخوام از همه کسایی که حضوری یا غیابی تو این مدت من و خانوادم رو همراهی کردن تشکرِ کنم. وجود شما به نیستی کاووس هستی داد. از همه افرادی که به نوعی برای روشن شدن حقیقت در طی روزهای گذشته به کمک خانواده اومدن، از نماینده‌های مجلس تا وکلا و خبرنگاران و دوستان‌مون، هم سپاسگزارم. 

دونستن دلیل دستگیری و شرایطی که به مرگ پدرم منتهی شد حق ما است. در قوانین کیفری ایران هم قانون‌گذار به صراحت از این حق گفته. ما از همه مجراهای قانونی برای شناسایی دلیل مرگ از جمله انجام تحقیقات مستقل که اعضای خانواده بتونن در شرایطی آرام  پیگیری کنن استفاده میکنیم. امیدواریم همه نهادهای مسئول به وظیفه قانونی خودشون در این زمینه بخوبی عمل کنن تا تحقیقات کامل بشه. 

ما روز ۲۳ بهمن‌ماه ۱۳۹۶ به پزشکی قانونی کهریزک رفتیم با همراهی دو وکیل، آقایان کیخسروی و درفشان. در اونجا به وکلای ما اجازه ورود به دفتر ریاست برای دیدن جسد و گزارش پزشکی رو ندادن و ما بدون اونا با مسئولان مرکز دیدار کردیم. به ما گفتن کالبدشکافی روال عادی پس از مرگ در زندانه و گزارش پزشکی قانونی هم روال اداری خودش رو داره و حتی در صورت تسریع ۴ تا ۶ هفته صدورش طول میکشه. به ما گفتن که اگه بخوایم وکلا در جلسه و در دیدن پیکر کاووس حضور داشته باشن باید به دادسرای ناحیه ۲۷ بریم. این همان دادسرایی بود که سه روز قبلش، جمعه ۲۰ بهمن‌ ۱۳۹۶، مادرم را احضار کرد و بهش گفتن برای «دیدن همسرت» بیا و قبل از اعلام مرگ کاووس ۳ ساعت ازش بازجویی و تهدید کردن و در آخر هم ازش تعهد کتبی گرفتن که هیچ حرفی با رسانه‌ها نزنه و الا خودش رو هم میگیرن. اینگونه تهدیدها به آزار کاووس پس از دستگیریش باعث شده بود که تا اون زمان سکوت کنیم. از همین دادسرا مادرم رو به همراه عمویم، کامران، بردن به سردخونه و جسد پدرم رو بهشون نشون دادن.

در دادسرای ناحیه ۲۷ من و برادرم در حضور وکیل‌هامون با آقایی به مدت دو ساعت دیدار کردیم که با ما همکاری کرد. وکلا درخواست دیدن مستندات ــ فیلم داخل سلول یا به گفته خودشون «سوئیت» و محتویات پرونده ــ رو کردن. من تنها عضو خانواده بودم که فیلم رو دیدم. میخوام اینجا تأکید کنم که بر خلاف گزارش‌های پراکنده، عموی من فیلم رو ندیده. همچنین هیچ‌یک از عموهای من با رسانه‌ها صحبت نکردن و حرفای نقل شده از اونا درست نیست. 

صرف نظر از رنج و مرارت طاقت‌فرسای دیدن ویدیو، به صراحت میتونم بگم که از دیدنش نمیشه نتیجه قطعی گرفت، چرا که چگونگی وقوع مرگ در فیلم دیده نمیشه. اونچه که در فیلم دیده میشه اینه که پدر من عصبی و بی‌قراره. با خودِ واقعیش زمین تا آسمون فاصله داره. مدام از یک طرف سلول به طرف دیگه میره. پریشونه. قاطعانه میتونم بگم که اون مردی که با پای خودش و به تنهایی به اتاق مجاور میره، که به ما گفتن «دستشوییه»، در اوضاع روحی خوبی نیست. هفت ساعت بعد جسدی رو از همون اتاق بیرون میارن. تقاضای وکیل‌ها برای دیدن این سلول رد شد. همانجا پرونده‌ای تشکیل شد برای پیگیری موضوع. همچنین توی دادسرا، بر روی موبایل، تصاویری از کالبد‌شکافی نشونم دادن.

صبح ۲۴ بهمن‌ماه ۱۳۹۶ من و مهران و چند عضو خانواده به پزشک قانونی کهریزک رفتیم و پیکر کاووس رو پس از اینکه دوباره با رئیس مرکز دیدار کردیم تحویل گرفتیم. گواهی‌ای که این مرکز به ما داده دلیل مرگ را «در حال بررسی» عنوان کرده.

خواسته ما پیش و بیش از هر چیز روشن شدن دلایل دستگیری پدرم، شرایط بازجویی از او، و رویت پرونده امنیتی اوست.

Back to where it all began

I first moved to NYC back in 2007 when I came to the United States with my original band Hypernova. So much has changed yet so much is the same in this beautiful and mysterious city. There's just something in the air in New York. You feel invincible in this city and believe that anything is possible even though deep down inside you know you're shit. You have no choice but to be naked here. But that's the beauty of it all, sort of like what Elvis said : "I'd rather go on hearing your lies, than to go on living without you." Those "lies" New York tells you make life worth living.

Life hasn't been easy the past couple of years in Iran but to be honest it was much better than I make it out to be. One of my biggest problems in life was the fact that I was so ungrateful for everything I had, and this made me always want more or create some sort of self loathing that I was not worthy of this love and attention. I was always swaying in between those negative extremes. It got to a point where I fucked up a beautiful relationship and almost caused great harm upon my own family. Luckily I'm still standing, something that comes naturally to me after I fall into the abyss of despair and depression. I surprise myself at how easily I get back up. I don't know how many more times I may repeat this vicious cycle but a part of me is much calmer and confident these days but also weary that at any turn shit can hit the fan again. Change is the only constant in this game.

I recently went on an ayahuasca journey and for the first time in my life I was forced to completely let go and just accept what was about to happen to me. I won't get in to the details of my introspective journey into myself but if you want a hint I was flirting with some serious Krishna (insert any other deity) level consciousness. It was absolutely the most surreal experience of my life and the craziest thing is that it made realize how good I've had it all this time (eg typical cliche Alchemist story). I was filled with an infinite amount of love and wisdom for myself and the world. Once you get over the self loathing and love yourself the possibilities seem limitless.

I once wrote a line in a song where I say: "I'll always be a servant in the house of love." Now I know what that means. I really want to share this love with as many people as I possibly can. I know it sounds all fluffy and cheesy but by god there's so much love that needs to be spread. Whether it's through my music or more importantly through my actions and daily practices, I really want and need to give back.

I know I won't let myself down anymore. I'm only human after all.