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Jailed Iranian film director Jafar Panahi has begun a hunger strike in Evin prison.
The filmmaker’s wife, Tahereh Saeidi, announced the protest action on her Instagram page. In a statement issued from his prison cell and sent to The Hollywood Reporter by the director’s publicist, who translated the message, Panahi recounted his recent imprisonment by Iran’s judiciary to complete a six-year prison sentence imposed over a decade ago.
Panahi, a former Golden Bear winner whose social-issue films have drawn retribution from the Islamic Republic, recounted joining other Iranian filmmakers July 20 to protest the arrest of two colleagues, only to find himself in Evin prison after being resentenced by a judge.
“This arrest was more like banditry and hostage-taking than the execution of a judicial sentence,” Panahi writes. The defiant director, whose most recent film, No Bears, premiered in Venice, adds he will refuse all food, drink and medicine until he is freed from prison.
“I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison,” Panahi adds. His imprisonment has drawn the attention of international film festivals and activists as it shines a lot on repression of the national cinema industry and continuing demonstrations around women’s rights.
Panahi’s full statement follows, as translated by his representative.
On July 20 of this year, in protest against the arrest of two of our
beloved colleagues, Mr. Mohammad Rasulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad,
together with a group of filmmakers gathered in front of Evin prison,
and it was decided that a number of us and the lawyers of the detained
colleagues entered the Evin courthouse and peacefully. We were talking
with the relevant authorities and the relevant investigator when an
agent came and took me to the judge of branch 1 of Evin’s sentence
enforcement. The young judge said without introduction: “We were
looking for you in the skies, we found you here.”
You are under arrest!” In this way, I was arrested and transferred to
Evin prison for the execution of a sentence that had been issued for
eleven years. According to the law for which I was arrested in 1988,
after more than ten years of non-execution of a [sentence] the sentence is
subject to the passage of time and becomes unenforceable. Therefore,
this arrest was more like banditry and hostage-taking than the
execution of a judicial sentence.
Even though my arrest was illegal, the respected lawyers succeeded in
violating the ruling issued in 1990 by resuming the proceedings in the
Supreme Court, which is the highest authority for judicial cases, on
the 15 October 2022 of this year, so that they can go to the same
branch for retrial. Width to be referred. In this way, according to
the law, with the acceptance of the request for retrial and violation
of the verdict, the case was referred to the branch and I should have
been released immediately by issuing bail; While we have seen that it
takes less than thirty days from the time of arrest to the hanging of
the innocent youth of our country, it took more than a hundred days to
transfer my case to the branch with the intervention of security
According to the clarity of the law in cases of violation of the
sentence in the Supreme Court, the judge of the same branch was
obliged to release me by issuing a bail order as soon as the case was
referred to that branch, however, by issuing a heavy bail order, in
practice after months of detention Legally, I was still kept in prison
with repeated excuses and every day by the security agencies.
What is certain is that the behavior of the bully and extra-legal
security institution and the unquestioning surrender of the judicial
authorities once again show the implementation of selective and
It is only an excuse for repression. Even though I knew that the
judicial system and the security institutions have no will to
implement the law (which they insist on), but out of respect for my
lawyers and friends, I went through all the legal ways to get my
right. Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but
to protest against these inhumane behaviors with my dearest
possession, that is, my life.
Therefore, I firmly declare that in protest against the extra-legal
and inhumane behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and this
particular hostage-taking, I have started a hunger strike since the
morning of the 12th of Bahman, and 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 prison.
With love for Iran and the people of my land, Jafar Panahi.
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