Jafar Panahi released on bail – but the struggle continues!

Hands Off the People celebrates the fact that Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi has been released from prison after more than two months. For the last week, he has been on hunger strike to protest against the conditions in the notorious Evin prison that he and his fellow prison mates had to endure.

A picture of Panahi taken yesterday
A picture of Panahi taken yesterday, May 25

He was arrested in March, apparently over plans to make a new critical film about the protests that sprung up in Iran after the rigged presidential elections in June 2009.

International pressure, including the protests staged at the Cannes Festival, as well as the campaigning work of organisations like Hopi (which, amongst other things, organised solidarity screenings of Panahi’s film ‘Offside’), have clearly played a role in him being freed. Panahi’s family and friends have told us how heartened he was to see that there were people fighting for his freedom.

He was released on a bail of $200,000 (£140,000).

A picture of Panahi taken yesterday
A picture of Panahi taken yesterday, May 25

But the struggle continues: his case has been referred to a revolutionary court, and he will still face trial, the official Irna news agency said. And hundreds of activists still remain behind bars. At least nine have been sentenced to death, and two have been executed already.

Hopi will continue to fight for the release of all political prisoners in Iran. Sanctions and war are not the answer to deal with the theocracy in Iran. Real democracy must come from below, from the workers’, the students, the women and unemployed in Iran.

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