Zarafshan entered the Law school of Tehran University in 1965, in 1967 he took part in student movements of Tehran university and was arrested with many other student activists and spent 6 months in prison. After that he was sent by Shah’s regime directly from prison to the military service and had to stay there for 1.5 year.
In 1969 he came back again to university and in 1971 was graduated in Law and then started to work in a law office as a trainee. In 1973 he was qualified to get the permission for working as a lawyer. In the same year (1973) he was granted a scholarship and went to France to continue his studies, there he got his PhD.
In 1977 he came back to Iran and began his career as a lawyer in Tehran, He organized – together with a group of other democratic-minded lawyers– Association of Iranian Democratic Lawyers. At those years too, arbitrary detentions were made by SAVAK –and not the official police and bailiffs who are charged with pre-investigations– and on the basis of fabricated charges, social and political activists were tried and condemned by military courts instead of legal civil ones. A tenacious struggle was made by Zarafshan together with the Association against these illegal procedures and in 1977 he succeeded to put an end to these illegal procedures. Zarafshan himself represented a group of students and dissidents in the first case of this kind which was tried in a civil court in 1978 in Iran. The trial turned into a historical event in those circumstances and ended in the acquittal of all those dissidents.
During two decades after revolution Zarafshan has continued his struggle against impunity, and religious, social and sexual discriminations, and in defense of human rights and women and minorities rights in particular. In 1998 some members of Iranian poets, scholars, writers, social and political activists were found dead, in their homes, or in remote suburbs of towns, some stabbed to death, some shot dead, and others strangulated; the events that came to be known in Iran as serial political murders. Zarafshan came into scene as the lawyer presenting families of victims. Organizing “the Investigative Committee on Serial Killings” in Iran, and working himself as the lawyer representing families of the assassination victims, he began his struggle to find the truth behind these murders, until the intelligent system, released an official statement under the pressure of public opinion, confessed that a group of “rogue” agents of that system had committed the murders but shortly after that, Zarafshan found himself convicted of “Disseminating Governmental Secrets” and sentenced to five years imprisonment and 50 lashes, and actually is serving the fifth year in prison.
Zarafshan has also played a prominent role in revival of “Writers Association of Iran” and in defense of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in early 1990s. Works (essays, books, translations …):
- Report of International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) On Palestine. Translated into Persian, 1967
- Palestine Diary, translated into Persian, 1964
- “Sur l’ Israel”, by Pierre Demeron, translated from French into Persian, published by “ Ghoghnous” publication, Tehran, 1974
- “Fundamentals of Political Economy”, by P. Nikitin, translated into persian, Tehran, 1974
- “Secret Weapon in Africa” , by Oleg Ignatiev , Progress publishers, Moscow, translated in Persian and published by “ Zendehrood” publishers, Tehran, 1980
- “Philosophy and Knowledge of the World” , written in Persian , “Donya-ye- Danesh” publishers, Tehran, 1974
- “An Outline of Philosophy and Philosophy of the History”, published by “Zendehroud” publishers, Tehran, 1979
- “Future of Socialism” (A collection of articles by Paul M. Sweezy, Harry Magdoff, Daniel Singer and Ralph Miliband, published by Monthly review press), translated into Persian and published by Agah publishing house, Tehran, 2000.
- “Globalization: To What End? “ by Paul Sweezy, Samir Amin, Harry Magdoff and Giovanni Arrighi, Monthly review press, 1992, tanslated into persian and published by Agah publishing house, Tehran, 2004.
- “Neo Liberalism and the ideologisation”, written in 1996, Tehran.
- Historical Obstacles to the Formation of a Civil Society in Iran, written in Persian.
Various articles and essays in Iranian papers and periodicals on social subjects such as:
- “ Genealogy of ‘Chomaghdari’ in Iran history “ , published in “Fasl-e- Sabz” in Iran and “Mehregan” monthly in the States. ( in Persian)
- “ The New and the Old”, published in “ Culture and Development” monthly in Iran
- “ Art and Society”, published in “ Iranian Writers Association” periodical in Iran.
- “ Democracy and Independence” , published in “ Nameh” monthly in Iran.
- “ Post modernism and the decay of Capitalist system” , published in “ Fasl-e- Sabz” in Iran
- “Islam and Modernity” , published in “ Fasl-e- Sabz” monthly, Tehran, 2002.
- “Is Political Reform possible without Socio-economic change?”
- “Unequal Development” (Monthly Review,1976), Translated and prepared by Ghoghnoos Publishing House, but never permitted to be published.
- “Empire of Chaos”, by Samir Amin (Monthly review press, 1993), published in Persian also in “ Globalization To What End? “ collection of articles , Agah publishing house, Tehran
- “Re-reading of the Post War Period” (Monthly Review, 1994),The Persian translation is published in “Adineh”, a Persian weekly
- “The Social Movement in the Periphery, An End to National Liberation?” (In the social movements and the world- system-transforming the Revolution), The Persian translation was published in “Culture and Development” a Persian monthly gazette.
- “Political Economy of Twentieth Century” (translated from Monthly Review)
- ”Imperialism and Globalization” (Monthly Review)
- “Capitalism in The Age of Globalization” , by Samir Amin, Translated and published by “Agah “ Publishing House, Tehran, 2003
- “Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World”, London, Zed press 1990, Translated into Persian and published in 1375 by “Ghatreh” Publishing House, Tehran
- “An Outline of Social Development” , by D.K. Mitropolsky, Y.A. Zubritsky, V.L. Kerov, Progress Publishers, Moskow (in 2 vol.), translated into Persian and published by Agah publishing house.
- “Selected Essays and Interviews On Iranian Current Affairs”,(written in Persian), Agah publishing house, Tehran, Iran, 2004
- Portrait du Decolonise’ , by Albert Memmi (Arabo- Musulman et de Quelques autres), Editions Gallimard, Paris, 2004. ( Translated into Persian, published by Agah publishing house).
- “A Collection of Studies on Socio- Economy affairs of Iran”, Azad Publishers, Tehran, 2003.( written in Persian)
- ” Political Sociology of Iran” , Agah publishing house, Tehran, 2003, written in Persian
- “Monitary Crisis of Capitalism” , by V. Stadnichenko, translated into Persian by “ Pishbord” publishers, Tehran, 1985
Awards, Honorary memberships: Human Rights Award of the German Association of Judges in 2007. Tucholsky Award of Swedish PEN, 2006. PEN American Center Freedom to Write Award , 2004. Honorary memberships: German, American, Canadian, Norwegian, Swedish, English and… PEN centers.