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Acclaimed and 'socially committed' film director Panahi has been imprisoned for over a month without charge by the Iranian authorities; Hands Off the People of Iran is campaigning for his release

Over a month since his arrest, Panahi, whose most famous films are the widely acclaimed The circle (winner of the Golden Lion prize at the Vienna film festival in 2000) and Offside, has still not been charged with any crime. Twice offered bail during that time, he has refused out of solidarity with all those incarcerated for their participation in the mass demonstrations against the regime that have shaken Iran since June 2009.

His detention is the most serious example of the treatment Panahi has suffered so far. Up to now, the theocratic regime has been conducting a campaign of harassment against the 49-year-old artist. He has been unable to travel abroad since wearing a green scarf – the colour of the opposition movement – at the Montreal Film Festival in 2009. He was also arrested briefly after attending the memorial service for student Neda Agha Soltan, who was murdered by regime forces during a demonstration. Earlier the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance had announced he would not be allowed to make another movie until he ‘re-edited’ earlier films and he was unable to work for a year.

There is a clear theme of social criticism in his work. In a 2007 interview with the LA Times, Panahi described himself as “a socially committed filmmaker” who operates in the context of a brutally oppressive society: “My movies are about limitations and restrictions, and these are restrictions that I’ve personally experienced.” However, those are minor relative to “the greater restrictions that Iranian women are suffering”, he said.

The prison authorities are piling on the pressure. His wife, Tahereh Saeedi, was only allowed to meet him on March 31 – almost a month after his arrest. She reports that his interrogators continually cover the same ground: “They keep asking him the same questions in order to find contradictions in his comments,” Saeedi revealed in a radio interview.

Hands Off the People of Iran calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Jafar Panahi, Tahereh Saidi, their daughter and all political prisoners in Iran. For more information and updates on the campaign visit HOPI's website at

www.hopoi.org

1. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Iranian film maker, Jafar Panahi

2. and all political prisoners incarcerated since the mass democratic upsurges against the theocratic regime after the rigged elections of 2009.

3. The Iranian people themselves must be free to shape their own future;

4. free from interference either from the western powers/Israel in the form of military attack and sanctions,

5. or the repressive apparatus of the theocratic state.