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Panahi in "No Bears", Janus Films

Update: Feb 3, Jafar Panahi was temporarily released on bail on the third day of his dry hunger strike. This is a victory for the people around the world who shared his story, but we must demand that his charges ("propaganda against the state" - for his art!) be dropped, and that the outrageous sentence of 6 years in prison, ban on travel and ban on filmmaking, be vacated.

Feb 2: Jafar Panahi, one of the most creative minds and one of the great filmmakers of our time has begun a hunger strike on February 1 at Tehran’s Evin prison. Panahi has produced five award winning films since he was banned by Iran’s theocrats in 2010 from doing his work for 20 years. The IEC sends our heartfelt support for his urgent struggle to be free from prison. We call on the world’s justice loving people to urgently do everything politically possible for his immediate and unconditional release.

Dolly Veale, IEC spokesperson February 2, 2023

See below the text for Panahi's letter, translated by his representative, as posted on The Hollywood Reporter, or in Farsi on Panahi's wife's Instagram.

On July 20 of this year, in protest against the arrest of two of our beloved colleagues, Mr. Mohammad Rasulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, together with a group of filmmakers gathered in front of Evin prison, and it was decided that a number of us and the lawyers of the detained colleagues entered the Evin courthouse and peacefully. We were talking with the relevant authorities and the relevant investigator when an agent came and took me to the judge of branch 1 of Evin’s sentence enforcement. The young judge said without introduction: “We were looking for you in the skies, we found you here.”

You are under arrest!” In this way, I was arrested and transferred to Evin prison for the execution of a sentence that had been issued for eleven years. According to the law for which I was arrested in 1988, after more than ten years of non-execution of a [sentence] the sentence is subject to the passage of time and becomes unenforceable. Therefore, this arrest was more like banditry and hostage-taking than the execution of a judicial sentence.

Even though my arrest was illegal, the respected lawyers succeeded in violating the ruling issued in 1990 by resuming the proceedings in the Supreme Court, which is the highest authority for judicial cases, on the 15 October 2022 of this year, so that they can go to the same branch for retrial. Width to be referred. In this way, according to the law, with the acceptance of the request for retrial and violation of the verdict, the case was referred to the branch and I should have been released immediately by issuing bail; While we have seen that it takes less than thirty days from the time of arrest to the hanging of the innocent youth of our country, it took more than a hundred days to transfer my case to the branch with the intervention of security forces.

According to the clarity of the law in cases of violation of the sentence in the Supreme Court, the judge of the same branch was obliged to release me by issuing a bail order as soon as the case was referred to that branch, however, by issuing a heavy bail order, in practice after months of detention Legally, I was still kept in prison with repeated excuses and every day by the security agencies.

What is certain is that the behavior of the bully and extra-legal security institution and the unquestioning surrender of the judicial authorities once again show the implementation of selective and tasteful laws.

It is only an excuse for repression. Even though I knew that the judicial system and the security institutions have no will to implement the law (which they insist on), but out of respect for my lawyers and friends, I went through all the legal ways to get my right. Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against these inhumane behaviors with my dearest possession, that is, my life.

Therefore, I firmly declare that in protest against the extra-legal and inhumane behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and this particular hostage-taking, I have started a hunger strike since the morning of the 12th of Bahman, and I will refuse to eat and drink any food and medicine until the time of my release. I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison.

With love for Iran and the people of my land, Jafar Panahi