Thursday, May 27, 2010

Panahi freed but struggle continues

IRANIAN film maker Jafar Panahi has been freed from Tehran's Evin prison, on bail of $200,000 (£140,000) a week, after staging a week-long hunger strike, and attracting international sympathy and support.

At the Cannes international film festival, where he had been due to be a juror, French flm star Juliette Binoche held up a card with Jafar Panahi's name during her acceptance speech for best actress on Sunday, and attacked the Iranian regime for holding the director prisoner. "His fault is to be an artist, to be independent," she said.

Abbas Kiarostami,Iran's best-known director, also in Cannes, described Panahi's imprisonment as "an attack on art". Hollywood bi names like Steven Spielberg, Robert De Niro, and Robert Redford joined the appeal for Panahi's release.

Panahi was arrested in March at his home in Tehran, together with his wife and daughter, who were later released. It is understood he refused bail at first, in solidarity with other people being held. A state prosecutor said the detention was not political. However, Iranian culture minister, Mohammad Hosseini, said last month that Panahi was detained for making an "anti-regime" film about last year's election unrest. He had previously been arrested for taking part in a memorial service for Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman allegedly shot dead by a government militiaman during post-election protests. He was then banned from leaving the country.

The 49-year old film maker is still not out of trouble with the regime. The Tehran prosecutor's office said that Panahi's file and the charges against him had been sent to a 'revolutionary' court that deals with security offences. It did not detail the charges.

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime continues to hold trade unionists like Tehran bus drivers' leader Mansour Osanlou. The bus drivers' union has made a call this year for co-ordinated action between the "green" opposition and the workers' movement. Hossein Sajedi, the Tehran police chief, has warned that security forces would confront any "illegal" protests on 12 June, the anniversary of incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being declared the winner, amid angry protests that elections were rigged.

Hands Off the People of Iran (HOPI), who campaigned for Jafar Panahi's freedom, and organised solidarity screenings of his film "Offside", in London, Manchester and Glasgow, have greeted the news of his release as a victory for his steadfastness as well as international support. Now HOPI is preparing to step up campaigning in solidarity with those struggling in Iran.

Save the Life of LGBT Activist Kiana Firouz

Kiana-Firouz-Cul-de-Sac1‘Iranian lesbian activist Kiana Firouz is currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom after a controversy over the upcoming release of Cul de Sac. The film, which stars Firouz and includes explicit lesbian sex scenes, is based heavily on Firouz’s life and struggles as a lesbian in Iran. Directors Ramin Goudarzi-Nejad and Mahshad Torkan posted the trailer on YouTube in December 2009 (below, NSFW) and since then, the Iranian government has attempted to deport Firouz back to Iran to be tried and punished for her crime of homosexuality. Firouz applied for refugee status in the UK, but was rejected.

If she is not granted asylum in the UK, she will be sent back to Iran, where the minimum punishment for homosexuality is 100 lashes. The punishment for “unrepentant” homosexuality, which Firouz’s LGBTQ activism clearly demonstrates, is public execution by hanging.

To sign a petition asking for asylum in the UK endorsed by Firouz herself, click here:

To see the trailer for Cul de Sac, click here:

Send a letter asking for amnesty for Firouz here:
Minister of State (Borders and Immigration) -
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Fax: +44 870 336 9034

Secretary of State for the Home Department -
Home Office, 2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF
Fax: +44 20 7035 0900

A form letter can be found here:’

From: Save the Life of LGBT Activist Kiana Firouz campaign



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