Category Archives: Solidarity

Over one hundred people attend solidarity screening of arrested Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi’s Offside at Soho Theatre.

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi and LRC Leader John McDonnell MP
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi and LRC Leader John McDonnell MP

Over one hundred people attend solidarity screening of arrested Iranian film maker Jafar Panahi’s Offside at Soho Theatre.

May 12 saw a well-attended solidarity solidarity screening of Jafar Panahi’s best known film, jointly organised by Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) and the Labour Representation Committee. The event is part of a series of film showings and solidarity events across the country to raise the profile of Jafar Panahi and others incarcerated for political ‘crimes’ in Iran.

Panahi was arrested on March 1 as part of the Iranian state’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement sparked by the rigged presidential elections in June 2009. He has refused bail until all political prisoners of this  movement are freed.

The event opened with Soho Theatre’s artistic director Lisa Goldman providing a moving account of meeting Panahi in Iran. She was followed by John McDonnell MP outlining the significance of the campaign to free Panahi.

“Every movement creates a symbol” he said. “In refusing bail until all other political prisoners are freed, Jafar is taking a courageous stance that we in Hopi wish to applaud and highlight”. He emphasised the importance of Hopi’s core principles – against war or sanctions on Iran; but no support for the theocracy and unequivocal solidarity with genuinely democratic struggles from below against its rule, especially those of the workers’ movement.

Hopi 3 Shappi
Shappi Khorsandi

This was a theme British-Iranian comic Shappi Khorsandi took up in her opening remarks to the audience, explaining that she “loved” Hopi precisely because of this principled stance. Her acutely observed act then interlaced anecdotes drawn from her own background as the daughter of an Iranian activist who had also been persecuted by the Iranian theocracy with observations on the eccentricities of British society from an ‘outsider’.

Panahi’s moving film was a huge hit with the audience; stormy applause followed its closing credits.

Mark Fischer, Hopi national secretary said:

“Tonight was a real success. We are fighting to raise the profile of Jafar Panahi, who in spite of his international prominence as an artist, has been largely ignored by what John McDonnell dubbed in his speech a ‘media blackout’. He – and all political prisoners in Iran – must not be forgotten”.

Panahi’s family sent thanks to the organisers of the event. Hopi has plans for more solidarity events in the near future.

ENDS

Additional Information

Contacts:
Yassamine Mather – 07738 828 540
Mark Fischer – 07950 416 922
Ben Lewis – 07890 437 497

Supporters of Hopi include (for a full list, visit www.hopoi.org/supporters.html):
ASLEF – train drivers union
PCSU – Public and commercial services union
Green Party
Communist Party of Great Britain
Diane Abbott MP – Labour
John McDonnell MP – Labour
Caroline Lucas MP – Green Party
Dr Derek Wall – male principal speaker, Green Party
Bill Bailey – comedian
Haifa Zangana – writer
Ken Loach – film maker
Naomi Klein – author

John Pilger – campaigning journalist
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.

Manchester solidarity demo against executions in Iran

On May 13th around 30 members of Hands Off the People of Iran along, Iranian students and exiles demonstrated in support of the general strike in Iranian Kurdistan and protest the executions of five political prisoners on May 9th in Evin prison. Those executed were school teacher and trade unionist Farzad Kamangar, Ali Haydarian, Farhad Vakili, Shirin Alam-Houli and Mehdi Eslamian. We rallied outside the University of Manchester Students’ Union and the BBC building spreading leaflets and literature on the situation. There were speeches by Iranian refugees who explained the situation in Iran the recent repressive measures in both English and Farsi.

Chris Strafford from HOPI’s national steering committee condemned the executions and the ongoing torture and incarceration of political prisoners within Iran, he also spoke about the negative impact of sanctions and that the key task for socialists in the UK is to oppose sanctions and military threats whilst building solidarity with the truly democratic movements. Afterwards he read out a letter by Farzad Kamangar sent to other prisoners titled ‘Be Strong Comrades’ you can see the videos here and here.

Hands Off the People of Iran demands:

* The immediate end to executions in Iran
* The unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners
* An end to the sanctions regime and imperialist threats

Below are some pictures of the day:

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Add your name: Freedom for Jafar Panahi!

“We the undersigned call for the immediate and unconditional release of Iranian film maker, Jafar Panahi, and all political prisoners incarcerated since the mass democratic upsurges against the theocratic regime in the aftermath of the rigged elections of June 2009.

The Iranian people themselves must be free to shape their own future; free from interference either from the western powers/Israel in the form of military attack and sanctions, or the repressive apparatus of the theocratic state.

Hands off the people of Iran!”

Initial signatories include:

  • John McDonnell MP, Labour Party
  • Lisa Goldman, artistic director Soho Theatre
  • Jeremy Dear, general secretary National Union of Journalists
  • Moshe Machover, Israeli activist
  • Nader Sadeh (Berlin)

To add your name, email office@hopoi.info as soon as possible. We are aiming to publicise this statement in many newspapers and websites. You can also join the Facebook group to Free Jafar Panahi, which keeps you updated with the campaign

Other signatories include:

Yassamine Mather; Hopi
Ruben Markarian, Rahe Kargar;
Mohamad Reza Shalgouni, Rahe Kargar;
Harry Cohen MP;
Pete Firmin (joint secretary and president, Brent Trades Union Council – pc);
Bill Wilson, member of the Scottish Parliament;
Anthony Neilson, Writer/ Director and Literary Associate of the RSC;
Marsha Jane Thompson, Labour Representation Committee;
Elaine Smith, member of Scottish Parliament;
Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Writer;
Dr Sue Blackwell, National Executive Committee (elect), University and College Union
Andy Hewett, Green Left;
Jenny Morgan, filmmaker;
Peter Grant, Manchester Piccadilly No1 Branch, ASLEF;
Priya Thakar, University of Manchester;
Chuck Hamilton, Tennessee Human Rights Coalition;
Mark Fischer, Communist Party of Great Britain
Behrooz Farahany, Solidarité socialiste avec les travailleurs en Iran-Paris;
Keith Baker, chair Scottish Education and Action for Development;
Paul Frost, East Midlands Green Party T U Group Rep, Unison member;
Christina Purcell, Manchester Met UCU Campaigns Officer (pc);
Dr. Marsha Levine, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research;
Abe Hayeem, Chair, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine;
Dieter Elken, Marxist Initiative, Berlin;
Mick Hall, Organized Rage;
Aleksander Glogowski PhD, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland;
Regi Theodor Enerstvedt, professor emeritus, University of Oslo, Norway;
Anders B Jonasson, senior lecturer, University of Skövde;
Marie Jedla;
Janet Bogle;
Ali Reza Akhavan;
Bita Tahbaz;
Firouzeh Rad;
Colin Pritchard;
Simon Pirani;
Ruth Saunders;
Leon Rosselson;
Prof. Haim Bresheeth;
Natasha Langridge;
Dr. Mehrdad Emadi;
Mila Mossafer;
Misagh Parsa;
Charlie Pottins;
Tony Greenstein;
Toby Abse;
Andrew Coates;
Dot Gibson;
Gilliar Javaheri;
Pete Mason;
David Broder;
Ann M. Crosby;
James Turley;
David Sabbagh;
David Convery;
Neill Grant;
Evelyn Metcalfe;
John Bowden;
Jim Moody;
Mark Fischer;
Leah Jones;
Imke Frank;
David Landau;
Paul Newton;
Steve Cooke;
Jim Gilbert;
Phil Kent;
Mark Harrison;
Maxim Forn;
Kelly Brown;
Marcus Trower;
Ali Hassany;
Ochreh Omidvake;
Ben Lille;
Robert Lambert;
Tina Becker;
Malcolm Mead;
Joanne George Wills;
Andy Guy;
Vick Marelic;
Paul White;
Grace McEnroe;
Matthew Smith;
Amanda Jackson;
Phil Kent;
Andrew Morris;
Ali Kaya;
Hariette Claire;
Alex Hopkins;
Clare Doyle;
Robert Bennett;
Samuel Gridley;
Andrew Britton;
Vicki Morris;
Jonathan Dodds;
Steve Freeman;
John Bridge;
Peter Manson;
Wendy Daly;
Dave Vincent;
David Isaacson;
Hagy Balizs;
Terri Rayner;
Oda Brathie;
Mina Bird;
Rachel Archer ;
D. Boromond;
M. O’Donnell;
B. Plant ;
Daniel Read;
August Schuit;
J. Rushborough-Lee;
Babak;
Virginia MacFadyen;
Paul Flewers;
Anna Rehin;
Ali Reza Akhavan;
Bita Tahbaz;
Fiona Harrington;
Ray Rising;
John S. Burke,
Nadia Marques de Carvalho;
Martin Ellis;
Geoff Curl;
Anne McShane;
Liaket Ali;
Laurie McCauley;
Zuri Zurowski;
Frances Grahl;
Anna Carteret
Dr. A. Holberg, Germany;
Maud Bracke, University of Glasgow;
Sean Lee
Sarah Gartland
Jamie Moloney
Maria Hawkins
ارژنگ بامشاد  Arjang Bamshad
احمد نوین  Ahmad Novin
امیر جواهری لنگرودی   Amir Javaheri Langaroudi
رفعت لنگرودی  Rafat Langaroudi
گیلک جواهری لنگرودی Gilak Javaheri Langaroudi
هما جوادی  Homa Javadi
ابوالحسن عظیمی Abolhassan Azimi
عیدی نعمتی شاعر Aydi Nemati (Poet)
سیاووش میرزایی شاعر Siavash Mirzaii (Poet)
رضا چیت ساز  Reza Chitsaz
داریوش ارجمندی Dariush Arjmandi
پریسا آزادیان Parissa Azadyan
مریم اسکویی Maryam Oskoui
فریدا سهابیان Frida Sohrabyan

سیران مرادیان Siran Moradyan
شهاب شکوهی Shahb Shokouhi
یوسف آبخونYoussef Abkhoun
پروین شکوهی  Parvin Shokouhi
نقی ریاحی لنگرودی Naghi Riyahi Langaroudi
سروژ قازاریان Sorouj Ghazaryan
نجف روحی Najaf Rouhi
حمید آذر Hamid Azar
رضا سپید روحی Reza Sepid Rouhi
علی جالینوسی   Ali Jalinous
احمد شکوهی Ahmad Shokouhi
بهرنگ ریاحی لنگرودی  Behrang Riyahi Langaroudi
محمد تجلی جو  Mohamad Tajali Jou
بهروز نظری Behrouz nazari
صادق افروز  Sadegh Afrouz
احمد سعیدی Ahmad Saiidi
علی یوسفی Ali Youssefi
نگار فکری- Negar Fekri
Lea Lahoud
Bettina Allamoda (Berlin), artist
Paul Martin

Freedom for Jafar Panahi!

panahi   picEight things you can do now to support the campaign!

Over two months 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.

Moshé Machover, a member of the Hopi steering committee, commented in a press statement: “Jafar Panahi has taken a brave stance. He stands shoulder to shoulder with those brave participants in the mass movement of opposition to the theocratic regime that have been arrested. Now we must stand shoulder to shoulder with him.”

Comrade Machover continued: “Our most effective act of solidarity with the inspiring movement for radical change that has filled Iran’s streets is to ensure that imperialism does not launch another disastrous military adventure in the Middle East, this time against an Iran which is pregnant with radical, genuinely democratic change from below”.

John McDonnell MP, a supporter of Hopi, said: “The world must make its voice heard in demanding that Jafar Panahi is released without charge along with all those incarcerated for nothing more than demanding basic civil liberties and democratic rights. These violations of basic human rights must not be allowed to go unnoticed and without protest.”

Eight things you can do now:

  • Send emails, faxes and letters of protest to the embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 16 Prince’s Gate, London SW7 1PT; info@iran-embassy.org.uk; 020 7589 4440. Don’t forget to send us a copy.
  • Sign our statement ‘Freedeom for Jafar Panahi and all political prisoners’ Email office@hopoi.info
  • Join the Facebook group to Free Jafar Panahi, which keeps you updated with the campaign
  • Put on showings of Panahi’s films: The wounded head (1988), Kish (1991), The last exam (1992), The circle (2000), Crimson gold (2003) and above all Offside (2006). We have been given official permission to show his films, so we can help you to get hold get a copy of the film and DVDs to sell. We can also provide a speaker to introduce the film
  • Order Hopi’s ‘Free Panahi’ postcards. Get people to sign the cards and return them to us asap – we will forward them to his family in Iran to show our solidarity. We ask for a donation of £5 or more for 30 cards to cover postage and printing costs
  • Order the A4 bulletin we have produced to highlight Panahi’s case (as well as the ongoing threat of a military attack and increased sanctions). We ask for a donation of £5 or more for 30 bulletins to cover postage and printing costs
  • Get your trade union branch/organisation to sponsor this important campaign.
  • Financially support the campaign: please use the Paypal button below or send cheque/s to Hopi, PO Box 54631, London N16 8YE

HOPI conference, November 28 2009

“Solidarity with workers in Iran our key priority after the June election”

  • Click here to report a full report
  • Click here to read the adopted policies in full
  • The video below gives an impressions from the conference, which discussed imperialism’s drive towards war; why we oppose sanctions on Iran, the workers’ movement in Iran and the tasks of the solidarity movement. For more videos of the conference, click here