Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Iran: Reverse harsh sentence imposed on film director Jafar Panahi

Jafar Pinahi and the Berlin Silver Bear Award, 2006.
On 24 January 2010, I received an email from Amnesty International USA shining light on a harsh sentence imposed on Jafar Panahi, an award-winning Iranian film director. He was arrested and recently imprisoned in Iran and banned from making movies - in violation of his right to freedom of expression through film-making.

According to Amnesty International USA, Jafar Panahi was accused of making an anti-government film without permission and inciting opposition. In December 2010, he was convicted of "Propaganda" against the state and sentenced to 6 years behind bars by Iran's Revolutionary Court. Besides this conviction, Jafar is banned from making movies for 20 years, and forbidden from writing scripts, traveling abroad, speaking with the press and from expressing political descent.

It is worth mentioning that Jafar Panahi is known for writing and directing films that expose the oppression of women in Iran. One of his compelling films titled "OFFSIDE" captures the story of women officially banned from men's sporting events, including football (soccer) in Iran. WATCH the trailer:

As a proponent of fundamental freedoms and human rights - including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights - I view this imprisonment and limitations slammed on Jafar as an attack on freedom of expression and the movie industry, as well as an attempt to silence critics of oppression in Iran. Those who value freedom of expression and film-making are encouraged to take action now to reverse this harsh sentence and outrageous conditions imposed on film director Jafar Panahi.

Jafar Panahi's artistic collaborator, Mohammad Rasoulof was also sentenced to 6 years imprisonment.

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