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Iranian director Jafar Panahi begins hunger strike in prison

Award-winning Iranian director Jafar Panahi says he has gone on a hunger strike to protest his conditions of detention while imprisoned in Tehran since September, according to a statement released Thursday by his wife.

Imprisoned in Tehran for six months, the Iranian director Jafar Panahi started a hunger strike to protest against his conditions of detention, according to a declaration published Thursday, February 2 by his wife.

Jafar Panahi, whose films have won awards at several European film festivals, was arrested in July even before the start of the wave of protest actions that have shaken the Iranian regime since September.

Despite hopes for his release last month, Jafar Pahani remains detained in Evin prison in Tehran.

“Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against this inhumane behavior with what I hold most dear: my life,” he said. “I will refuse to eat and drink and to take any medicine until my release,” said the filmmaker, whose hunger strike began on February 1.


“I will remain in this state until, perhaps, my lifeless body is released from prison,” he added.

Jafar Pahani, 62, was arrested on July 11 and served a six-year prison sentence handed down in 2010 for “propaganda against the system”.

But on October 15, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial, giving his lawyers hope for a release.

The director of “Taxi Tehran” and “Three Faces”

Jafar Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film “Le Cercle”. In 2015, he was awarded a Golden Bear in Berlin for “Taxi Tehran” and, in 2018, he won the best screenplay award for “Three Faces” at the Cannes Film Festival.

On Twitter, this film institution “reaffirms its full support for him by calling, like many artists, festivals and organizations around the world, for his immediate release”.

“This cry for Freedom obliges us collectively” underlined the ARP and the SRF, two collectives of French filmmakers.

“We stand in solidarity with Iranians who fight for their rights, condemn this arrest and call for his release,” the Berlin International Film Festival wrote on Twitter.

Imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi on hunger strike: “I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is released from prison.”

We stand in solidarity with Iranians fighting for their rights, condemn his arrest and call for his release.

Jafar Panahi’s latest film, “No Bear”, which, like most of his recent works, features him directly, was screened in 2022 at the Venice Film Festival when he was already imprisoned. The film won the Special Jury Prize.

His arrest in July came after he attended the court hearing of another director, Mohammad Rasoulof, who was arrested a few days earlier.

The latter was released from prison on January 7 after being granted a two-week leave for health reasons.

Film personalities are among thousands arrested in Iran in a crackdown on protests sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd arrested for allegedly breaking a strict dress code for women.

Actress Taraneh Alidoosti, who released images of herself not wearing an Islamic veil, was among those detained before being released in early January after nearly three weeks in detention.

In a sign of the dangers faced by hunger strikers, human rights activists on Thursday released photos of the emaciated body of activist and doctor Farhad Meysami, sentenced to five years in prison and who refuses to eat .

“This painful image is a symbol of the Iranian people’s non-violent struggle to achieve basic human rights,” said Mahmood Amiry Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based NGO Iran Human Rights, saying that Farhad Meysami had been on hunger strike since October.

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