03 Feb 2023, 16:08

Jailed Iran filmmaker Jafar Panahi says on hunger strike

  PARIS, Feb 3, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi,

who has been jailed for the past six months, said he has begun a hunger
strike to protest his detention, according to a statement published by his
wife Thursday.

Panahi, whose films have won prizes at all of Europe's main film festivals,
was arrested in July even before the current wave of protests that have
shaken the regime started in September.

There were expectations last month that the judiciary could order his
release, but he remains behind bars in Tehran's Evin prison.

He started his dry hunger strike, refusing food and water, from Wednesday, he
said in the statement.

"Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest
against this inhumane behaviour with my dearest possession -- my life," said

"In protest against the illegal and inhumane behaviour of the judicial and
security apparatus and this hostage-taking, I have started a dry hunger
strike as of February 1. I will refuse to eat and drink any food and medicine
until the time of my release.

"I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from

Panahi, 62, was arrested on July 11 and had been due to serve a six-year
sentence handed down in 2010 after his conviction for "propaganda against the

But on October 15, the Supreme Court quashed the conviction and ordered a
retrial, raising hopes among his legal team he could be released.

- 'Non-violent struggle' -

Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film
"The Circle". In 2015, he won the Golden Bear at Berlin for "Taxi Tehran",
and in 2018, he won the best screenplay prize at Cannes for "Three Faces".

"We stand in solidarity with Iranians fighting for their rights, condemn his
arrest and call for his release," the Berlin Film Festival wrote on Twitter.

In France, the ARP and SRF associations of filmmakers said Panahi had started
his hunger strike in response to his persecution "by the oppressive and
freedom-killing Iranian authorities."

"We must collectively answer this cry for help," they said, calling for his
immediate release.

The Cannes Film Festival said it "reaffirms its full support (for Panahi) by
demanding, like many artists, festivals and organisations around the world,
his immediate release."

Panahi's latest film, "No Bears", which like much of his recent work stars
the director himself, was screened at the 2022 Venice Film Festival when the
director was already behind bars. It won the special jury prize.

Panahi's July arrest came after he attended a court hearing for fellow film
director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days earlier.

Rasoulof was released from prison on January 7 after being granted a two-week
furlough for health reasons and is still believed to be outside of jail.

Cinema figures have been among the thousands of people arrested by Iran in
its crackdown on the protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of
Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating its strict
dress code for women.

Star actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who had published images of herself without
wearing the Islamic headscarf, was among those detained although she was
released in early January after being held for almost three weeks.

In a sign of the perils of hunger strikes, rights activists on Thursday
posted pictures of the emaciated body of campaigner and medical doctor Farhad
Meysami, serving a five year sentence, who has been refusing food.

"This painful image is a symbol of the non-violent struggle of the Iranian
people to achieve fundamental human rights," said the director of the Norway-
based Iran Human Rights group Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, saying Meysami had
been on hunger strike since October.


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