Imprisoned Iranian director Jafar Panahi declares hunger strike

February 03, 2023
Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who has declared a hunger strike
Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who has declared a hunger strike

PARIS — Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has been jailed for the past six months in Evin prison, said he has begun a hunger strike to protest his detention.

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, 62, recounted his recent imprisonment.

“This arrest was more like banditry and hostage-taking than the execution of a judicial sentence,” Panahi writes.

He adds that 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's July arrest came after he attended a court hearing for fellow film director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days earlier. Once Panahi arrived at the prison, he was told by guards that he had an outstanding prison sentence dating back 10 years that barred him from making films, and he was arrested again for "propaganda against the system".

The director, 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.

His imprisonment has drawn the attention of international film festivals and activists.

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

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

February 03, 2023
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