Protest against actress sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail

A campaigning has been launched for the freedom of Marzieh Vafamehr, an Iranian actress who has been sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail for her role in My Tehran for Sale, an Australian film about an actress whose theatre work is banned in Iran.

Actors’ Equity of Australia has set up an on-line petition calling for her release.

Vafamehr, wife of the acclaimed film-maker Nasser Taghvai, was arrested in July after starring in the film, which touches on many of the taboo issues of modern life in Iran. Iranian human rights activists have reacted with outrage to her conviction and in particular the fact that she faces 90 lashes. It comes only two days after a student activist, Peyman Aref, was lashed 74 times in Tehran’s Evin prison for insulting the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The film, directed by Granaz Moussavi, features Vafamehr as an actress who flees to Australia as an illegal immigrant after being persecuted in Iran. She appears with a shaved head and without a hijab in some scenes. In the film, an underground party where men and women dance and drink is disrupted by a group of moral police who arrest some of the partygoers. My Tehran for Sale premiered at the Adelaide film festival in 2009 but remains banned in Iran.

Other members of Iran’s film industry have also been arrested in recent years. Pegah Ahangarani, a popular actor was released from jail in July. Director Jafar Panahi received a six-year prison term and 20-year ban from film-making last year. Mohammad Rasoulof was also sentenced to six years in jail. Ramin Parchami, an actor who voiced support for the opposition, still remains in jail.

Go to Equity’s web site at www.equity.org.uk for more information. You can find the petition at http://www.equityfoundation.org.au/newsbites/actors-equity-calls-for-the-release-of-marzieh-vafamehr.html

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