March 5 2010 – Press release for immediate release
Internationally renowned Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi arrested by Islamic regime – protest now!
Hopi demands immediate release of artist critical of the theocratic regime in films such as ‘The Circle’ (Darareh) and ‘Offside’. ‘Arrest could be pre-emptive strike by regime against International Women’s Day protests and demos’, says Yassamine Mather (Hopi chair)
Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi has been arrested along with his wife Tahereh Saidi, their daughter and fifteen guests who happened to be at their home. State forces took away many of Panahi’s possessions in the course of the arrest.
Panahi has been unable to attend film festivals abroad since wearing a green scarf at the Montreal Film Festival in 2009. He was arrested briefly after attending the memorial service of murdered student, Neda Agha Soltan.
Panahi is well known for his socially critical films such as the award-winning ‘The Circle’ (Dayareh) which won awards at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 including the prestigious Gold Lion Award, and ‘Offside’, which won the Silver Bear award at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.
Both expose the crushing inequality of women in today’s Iran. His most famous film in the West, ‘Offside’, is the story of a group of women attempting to sneak into Iran’s football match against Bahrain during World Cup qualifiers. The women are arrested and chained to the railings outside the stadium. From there, they have to listen to the cheers of the all-male crowd watching Iran’s victory.
Panahi’s films vividly dramatise the second class status of women in Iran faced and the brutal barriers they face to playing a full and active role in society.
Yassamine Mather, national chair of Hopi, commented:
“Given Panahi’s subject matter, this arrest could be a pre-emptive strike by the regime against potential anti-government protests and demos on International Women’s Day (March 8).
“We call for letters of protest to the Iranian embassy in London and the maximum turn-out on the IWD march starting from outside the building on Saturday, March 7. (Details below).
“We should demand Panahi’s release using our own, militant methods of protests and struggle. But we should have nothing but contempt for the crocodile tears that leaders of imperialist governments that threaten Iran with sanctions and war will no doubt shed over Panahi and others like him.
“The theocracy and imperialism have a symbiotic relationship. Iran uses the pressure of the West to brand any opposition to its rule an imperialist ‘fifth column’; for the West, Iran is a useful bogey-man in a region which is the focus of ‘the war on terror’.”
Hopi calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Jafar Panahi, Tahereh Saidi, their daughter and all political prisoners in Iran. We call on all progressive and democrats to send letters, emails, fax of protest to the Iranian embassy. (Please also send copies to us).
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran
16 Prince’s Gate
London SW7 1PT
Tel: 020 7225 3000
Fax: 020 7589 4440
International Women’s Day March, London
March 7, 12 noon
Assemble in front of Iranian embassy (address above). Speeches will be in Trafalgar Square. Yassamine Mather will be one of the speakers at this event
Mark Fischer – 07950 416 922
Ben Lewis – 07890 437 497
Yassamine Mather – 07738 828 540
Supporters of Hopi include (for a full list, visit www.hopoi.org/supporters.html):
ASLEF – train drivers union
PCSU – Public and commercial services union
Communist Party of Great Britain
Diane Abbott MP – Labour
Harry Cohen MP – Labour
John McDonnell MP – Labour
Caroline Lucas MEP – Green Party
Dr Derek Wall – male principal speaker, Green Party
Cllr Rania Khan – Respect, Tower Hamlets
Cllr Fozol Miah – Respect, Tower Hamlets
Mark Steel – columnist and comedian
Bill Bailey – comedian
Haifa Zangana – writer
Ken Loach – film maker
Naomi Klein – author
John Pilger – campaigning journalist
Peter Tatchell – human rights activist
Professor Alan Macfarlane – University of Cambridge
Professor Moshé Machover – King’s College, London
Professor John McIlroy – Keele University
Professor Bridget Fowler – Glasgow University
Professor Christine Cooper – Strathclyde University
Dr Terry Brotherstone – University of Aberdeen UCU
Dr Adam Swift – University of Oxford
Professor Phil Taylor – University of Strathclyde
Professor George Joffe – King’s College, London & University of Cambridge
Peter Jowers – University of the West of England
Professor Guy Julier – Leeds Metropolitan University
Victor Kattan – Research Fellow, British Institute of International & Comparative Law
Dr Gerry Kearns – University of Cambridge
Professor Jeremy Keenan – University of Exeter & University of Bristol
Dr Andrew Cumbers – University of Glasgow
Dr Rolf Czeskleba-Dupont – University of Roskilde
Professor Bill Bowring – Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Hamid Dabashi – Columbia University
Professor Moataz Fattah – Cairo University
Hopi is a campaign established in 2008 around the central slogans ‘No to imperialist war! No to the theocratic regime!’ As well as British activists, the organisation centrally involves a large number of Iranian exile organisations and individuals who have been forced into exile to avoid arrest and imprisonment.