Jafar Panahi on the hunger strike in Evin prison in Iran

The “No Bears” filmmaker is going on strike to protest his continued imprisonment in Iran’s Evin prison, even though Iranian courts have reportedly overturned his sentence.

Jaafar Panahi, the Iranian filmmaker of “No Bears,” has gone on hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment in Iran’s Evin prison, even after the country’s courts overturned his sentence last week.

In July last year, Panahi went to Evin prison to inquire about the arrest of filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, who were detained for their social media protests over the collapse of the building that killed more than 40 people. .

Panahi’s investigation reactivated the director’s six-year prison sentence, originally imposed in 2010, in addition to his 20-year filmmaking and travel ban, and he has been in prison since his investigation.

The repeated sentence stemmed from Panahi’s participation in the 2009 funeral of a student killed in the green movement, where Iranian citizens demanded the removal of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The award-winning director’s films have regularly questioned Iranian systems and traditions, and his most recent film, No Bears, a painful and troubled indictment of censorship in which Panahi plays himself as a filmmaker on the Turkish-Iranian border, set New York. and at the Venice film festivals. “No Bears” was released in the US at the end of December.

Tahereh Saeidi, Panahi’s wife, announced the hunger strike on her Instagram page on Wednesday. He also stressed that Panahi’s lawyers had successfully appealed his sentence, which is now said to have lapsed due to Iran’s 10-year statute of limitations, but his imprisonment remains.

But Panahi is protesting the inhumane treatment of Evin under the Islamic Republic’s judiciary and security forces, who he says held him hostage. He refuses to eat, drink or take his medication.

“I firmly state that in protest against the illegal and inhuman behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and their hostage-taking, I started a hunger strike on the morning of Bahman 12 (February 1),” Panahi wrote in his statement. shared with IndieWire.

He added: “I will not eat or drink any food or medicine until I am released. I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is released from prison.

Panahi, who won the Special Jury Prize in Venice for “No Bears” and previously won Best Screenplay at Cannes in 2018 for “Three Faces,” was asked about Rasoulof’s terms and hopeful release in July. When Panahi arrived at the prison, the guards told him that he had a 10-year outstanding prison sentence that prevented him from making films, and he was arrested again.

Panahi’s six-year sentence was largely condemned by the film community. In protest at the presentation of “No Bears” at the Venice Film Festival, an empty seat was left for Panahi at the press conference.

Here’s Panahi’s full, unedited statement about the hunger strike, which he shared with IndieWire:

“On July 20 this year, in protest against the arrest of two of our beloved colleagues, Mohammad Rasulof and Mostafa Al-Ahmad, as well as a group of filmmakers gathered in front of Evin prison and decided that a number of us and the lawyers of the arrested colleagues entered the Evin court building, and we were talking peacefully with the relevant authorities and the relevant investigator when an agent came and took me to the judge of the 1st Branch of the Annual Penalty. Without introducing himself, the young judge said: “We looked for you in the skies, we found you here.”

He is under arrest!” In this way, he was arrested and transferred to Evin Prison to serve a sentence imposed eleven years ago. According to the law for which he was arrested in 1988, after more than ten years of non-execution, the sentence expires and becomes unenforceable. Therefore, this arrest there was banditry and hostage-taking rather than the execution of a judicial sentence.

Even though my arrest was illegal, the honorable lawyers managed to defy the 1990 judgment by reopening the proceedings on October 15, 2022 this year in the Supreme Court, which is the highest authority in judicial matters. to the same account for renewal. Reference width. In this way, according to the law, by accepting the request for a new trial and violating the sentence, the case was brought before the branch, and he should have been immediately released on bail; While we saw that less than thirty days pass from the arrest to the hanging of the innocent youth of our country, it took more than a hundred days for my case to be handed over to the branch with the intervention of the security forces.

In case of violation of the sentence in the Supreme Court, according to the clarity of the law, the judge of the same branch was forced to release me by issuing a bail order, as soon as the case came to this branch, however, a serious bail order, after months of detention in practice I was still legally held in prison, with repeated objections and security agencies every day.

What is certain is that the behavior of the harassing and extrajudicial security establishment and the unquestioning submission of the judicial authorities once again show the implementation of selective and tasteful laws.

This is just an excuse for oppression. Even though I knew that the justice system and security institutions have no will to enforce the law (which they insist on), but out of respect for my lawyers and friends, I went through all legal avenues to be right; Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest these inhumane behaviors with my dearest possession, which is my life.

Therefore, I firmly state that in protest against the lawless and inhuman behavior of the judicial and security apparatus and this particular hostage-taking, I have started a hunger strike since the morning of Bahman 12 and will not eat. and to drink all food and medicine until my release. I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is released from prison.

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

With translation assistance from Mansour Jahani.

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