Afshin Ellian (born 27 February 1966 in Tehran, Iran) is a Dutch professor of law, philosopher, poet, and critic of political Islam. He is an expert in international public law and philosophy of law.
In 1989, Ellian came to the Netherlands as a political refugee. Having experienced first-hand the Islamic theocratic government of Iran, he writes often about how such issues are affecting the world in general and the Netherlands in particular. Due to threats on his life tied to such criticism, he is currently heavily guarded.
Ellian grew up in Iran. As a youngster, he learned the profession of journalism with one of the most prominent journalists of Iran. He was a freelance journalist for Iranian political magazines aimed at youth. During the Iranian Revolution 1978-1979 he became, like many youngsters of his age, a supporter of the Fedayan-e Khalq-e Iran. After the revolution, however, there came a split in this party. Many followers become adherents of either the majority branch of this party or supporters of the Tudeh Party of Iran. Ellian became both a member of the Tudeh Party of Iran and active with the Youth Organization of Tudeh Party of Iran. It is worth noting that the Islamic regime prohibited and oppressed all political parties and activities after the Revolution. This meant that also Ellian was in danger of being arrested which, hence, lead him to go underground and finally to escape the country. He decided to escape to Pakistan. However, there he still faced extradition back to Iran thus shortly afterwards he fled to Afghanistan where already a community of intellectuals and activists from Iran had gathered. There he learned to know Siavash Kasraie who was also a member of the Tudeh Party of Iran and from whom he learned poetry. Besides he studied medicine for few years in the capital, Kabul. Slowly on an ideological struggle occurred between him and the leaders of the Tudeh Party in Kabul who were, in Ellian’s point of view, Stalinist figures which was reason enough for him and few of his friends to break up with the Tudeh Party of Iran. In the fall of 1987, he decided to seek asylum with the Permanent Representative of the United Nations in Kabul whereupon, in 1989, he was invited to come to the Netherlands and was flown out of the country by the United Nations together with other dissidents who were also in danger.