Iranian director Jafar Panahi starts hunger strike in prison

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Tehran: Iranian award-winning director, Jafar Panahi, who has been imprisoned in Tehran for six months, announced that he has begun a hunger strike to protest the authorities’ refusal to release him on bail pending a retrial.

The note from Jafar Panahi, starting of his hunger strike, was published on the Instagram page of his wife, Tahereh Saeedi.

In the note, prominent Iranian director emphasized, “I categorically declare in protest against the extra-legal and inhuman behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and their hostage-taking, I have started hunger strike from the morning of the February 1, 2023. I refused to eat and drink any food and medicine until I was released.”

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

Panahi also wrote in his note, “According to the law, I should have been released on bail after accepting my request for a retrial, but my case has been adjourned for more than 100 days.”

“While we have seen that it takes less than 30 days from the time of arrest to the hanging of the innocent youth of our country, it took more than 100 days to transfer my case to the branch with the intervention of security forces.”

“What is certain is that the violent and illegal behaviour of the security institution and the reckless surrender of the judiciary once again shows the implementation of selective and tasteful laws.”

“It is only an excuse for repression. I knew that the judicial system and the security institutions have no will to implement the law (which they brag about), but out of respect for my lawyers and friends, I went through all the legal channels to fight for my rights.”

“Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against these inhumane behaviours with my dearest possession, that is, my life.”

62-year-old Jafar Panahi, Iranian film director, screenwriter, and film editor, was arrested on July 11, 2022, when he went to the prosecutor’s office to follow up on the situation of another filmmaker, Mohammad Rasoulof.

Panahi was also arrested in 2010, after his support for anti-government protests. He was later convicted of “propaganda against the regime”, sentenced to six years of imprisonment and banned from directing or writing films, Mehr News Agency reported.

Panahi’s arrest was met with a wave of domestic and international condemnation, but the Islamic Republic has not responded to requests for his release.

Thousands of film personalities have been arrested in Iran as part of the crackdown on protests that erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested on suspicion of violating the country’s strict dress code.

The protests involved people from all walks of life and different sects in Iran after Amini’s killing.

Iranian women are at the fore in the demonstrations, in which many young people participate, to chants of “Woman life freedom” and “Death to the dictator.”

The protests represent one of the country’s boldest challenges since the 1979 revolution.

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( With inputs from )

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