19 May 2010
Jafar Panahi on Hunger Strike
According to Bloomberg Business Week, leading Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi has gone on a hunger- strike to protest his ill-treatment.
Jafar Panahi, who is being held in Tehran’s Evin jail, began to fast May 16 after officials threatened to arrest his family and forced him and other inmates to stand outdoors naked for one and a half hours, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in an e-mailed statement.
“I swear upon the cinema in which I believe, that I will not stop my hunger strike until my demands are met,” Panahi, who has been detained since March, said in a letter released by the New York-based group. The filmmaker, 49, demanded access to his family, a lawyer and release on bail.
Panahi is an award-winning director whose films explore life under the rule of Iran’s Shiite Muslim clerics. Several of his films, which have been criticized by the authorities for depicting a negative side of Iran, have been banned from being shown in the country.
Panahi’s prohibited films include “Crimson Gold,” which looks at the privileges of Iran’s upper class through the eyes of a pizza-delivery man and won the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. Also banned in Iran is Panahi’s “The Circle,” which portrays the harsh aspects of life for several women in the Islamic nation. It won the Golden Lion award at the 2000 Venice Film Festival. Panahi won the second-highest award at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival with “Offside,” a comic tale about a government ban on women and girls attending soccer games.
Panahi had been briefly detained in July last year after he attended a ceremony at a cemetery to commemorate Neda Agha- Soltan, an opposition supporter killed during a post-election demonstration.
The charges against Panahi include making a movie without a permit and wearing a green scarf indicating support for the opposition “Green Movement,” in a film festival abroad, his wife, Tahereh Saeedi, said April 12.
Jafar Panahi’s films are truly excellent and I would stromgly recommend them to anyone. But this is by the by. The Iranian authorities treatment of Panahi is an utter disgrace. The charges against him are as flimsy as those levelled against other protestors.
The Iranian authorities are using a sledgehammer to kill any dissent even in cases describing it an offence against God.. But this will not work in the end. I have every confidence that the people will prevail. Not tomorrow, not next week but the Mullahs will be consigned to the dustbin