Laara Dashti (FR) "Mashmul" - Helphoto 2023




In 2022, a twenty-seven-year-old soldier was executed in Rasht, Iran, after being condemned for the murder of a head officer who had opposed his request for exemption from military service.

Up to twenty-four months of military service is compulsory for Iranian men aged 18-40. There are limited exemptions, but not for conscientious objection. Those men are called mashmul (مشمول), meaning liable to conscription. Until he has completed his military duties, an Iranian man is not allowed a valid passport and cannot leave the country unless granted permission. He is not allowed to register official documents to purchase a car or a home, get a housing loan from a bank, receive a government pension, or work for the government.

Many refuse to enroll because of the ideology this system represents, the freedom it takes from them, and the work conditions they face. Some take great risks and act illegally to dodge military service. Some fail or give up and enroll to regain their freedom and build a future. Others are considered deserters, exposing themselves to criminal prosecutions, and remain unable to leave Iran.

While the subjects of this work keep their visage hidden, they are surrounded every day by the faces of dead soldiers. It is impossible to walk outside and not see them. By producing these images nationwide, the Islamic Republic has created an ideological system that prospers on glorifying martyrdom. 

In this series, the anonymous portraits are contrasted with the depictions of dead soldiers erected all over the country. The images that manipulate are confronted with the ones that tell personal realities.

The project and its subjects remain anonymous for safety.

Laara Dashti is a pseudonym. For safety reasons, the project must remain anonymous. 

Laara Dashti (FR) "Mashmul" - Helphoto 2023
Laara Dashti (FR) "Mashmul" - Helphoto 2023