17 October 2011

Court upholds Jafar Panahi's appalling prison sentence

AFP reports that a Tehran appeals court has upheld a six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against international award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi.

The government-run newspaper Iran confirmed the ruling in its Saturday edition, saying: "The charges he was sentenced for are acting against national security and propaganda against the regime."

Panahi was convicted in December last year over a documentary he tried to make about the unrest that followed the disputed 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

A six-year jail sentence against another Iranian who co-directed that film, Mohammad Rasoulof, 38, was reduced to one year in the same appeal.

Panahi, 51, has won a slew of foreign awards for his films. But many are banned in Iran where authorities are unhappy with his satirical portrayal of everyday life in the Islamic republic.

One of Panahi's latest productions was a documentary entitled "This is not a Film," depicting a day in his life as he waited to hear the verdict from the appeal. It was screened at the Cannes film festival in May.

Panahi's upheld sentence orders him to six years behind bars, plus a 20-year ban on directing or writing for movies, a 20-year ban on giving interviews, and a 20-year ban on travel except for the Hajj holy pilgrimage to Mecca or for medical treatment.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in January said punishment such as that meted out to Panahi was "not compatible with the human rights commitments that Iran herself has subscribed to in several international conventions."

Repression of Iran's domestic film production has intensified since Ahmadinejad's 2009 re-election. More than a dozen directors or actors have been arrested and sometimes severely sentenced since the middle of this year for "propaganda" against the regime, including several documentary makers accused of giving a "black image" of Iran.

Early this month, Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr was sentenced to a year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in Australian-produced film "My Tehran for Sale," about the limits imposed on artists in the Islamic republic.

This sentence is an absolute disgrace that underlines the bankrupt nature of the Iranian regime.

4 comments:

nursemyra said...

Terrible

jams o donnell said...

It's appalling isn't it Nursie?

susan said...

Yes, appalling is a good word.

jams o donnell said...

About the best word I can think to describe this