45 Iranian Artists Demand Release of Filmmakers: Is Ill-Treatment, Coercion, and Imprisonment the Only Way?
More than 45 famous Iranian filmmakers, actors, and authors have demanded the releases of Mohammad Nourizad and Jafar Panahi. In their letter they state: “We, the undersigned, support the rights of all filmmakers who are able to make films now and in the future, and the rights to freedom of expression and professional creativity for all, and the right to protest violations of social, professional, and citizen’s rights for all at this time and into the future, and demand the unconditional release of Mohammad Nourizad and Jafar Panahi and all who have been arrested for the above. Isn’t the New Year a good time for reconsidering the ways in which people have been treated and changing things for the best? Is ill-treatment, coercion, and imprisonment the only way? Can’t things be corrected in keeping with the natural, legal, and professional needs of people? Instead of intensifying an atmosphere of death, fear, and disappointment, cannot a happy, creative, hopeful, and vibrant society be created? Happy New Year.”
Signatories of the letter include: Babak Ahmadi, Mohammad Reza Aslani, Kamal Athari, Hamid Amjad, Rakhshan Bani Etemad, Bahram Beizaei, Kiyoumars Pourahmad, Sassan Pirouz, Nasser Taghvaei, Payam Jahanmani, Mohammad Charmshir, Mani Haghighi, Ashkan Khatibi, Khashayar Deyhimi, Mohammad Rahmanian, Leili Rashidi, Mohammad Rezaei Rad, Ali Rafiei, Homa Roosta, Mona Zandi, Hamid Samandarian, Khosrow Sinaee, Kamran Shirdel, Mohammad Aghebati, Taraneh Alidousti, Behzad Farahani, Sepideh Farsi, Morad Farhadpour, Asghar Farhadi, Alireza Kaveh, Hossein Kiani, Aida Kaykhahi, Massoud Kimiaee, Shahla Lahiji, Fatemeh Motamed Aria, Hassan Majooni, Khosrow Massoumi, Farhad Mehranfar, Mojtaba Mir Tahmasb, Tahmineh Milani, Alireza Naderi, Mahtab Nassir Pour, Afshin Hashemi, Mohammad Amiryarahmadi, Mohammad Yaghoubi.
Mohammad Nourizad, an Iranian writer and filmmaker, was arrested on Sunday, 20 December 2009, on charges of “insulting authorities and propagation against Islamic Republic of Iran.” Regarding this arrest, the Public Relations Unit of Tehran General and Revolutionary Courts announced that following the District Attorney’s indictment against Nourizad and after his charges were read to him by the court branch responsible for his case, a bail order was issued for him and the suspect was sent to prison due to his inability to raise bail.
One week prior to his arrest, Mohammad Nourizad blogged that someone from the security office had contacted and summoned him. When Nourizad asked for a reason, he was told: “On charges of insulting the Head of the Judiciary.” Following statements by Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Judiciary, in which he issued a warning to government critics that the Judiciary had enough evidence against them, Nourizad wrote a blog entry titled “The Fall of the Town’s Top Judge,” criticizing Larijani’s statements.
Film director Javad Panahi was arrested along with his wife and several of his friends on 2 March 2010. Security forces entered Panahi’s home and after searching the premises, arrested him, his wife and daughter, and fifteen guests. All were taken to an undisclosed location.