Support for Jafar Panahi and Taxi Téhéran

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FIDH is proud to announce its support for Jafar Panahi and his latest film, Taxi Téhéran.

The government of Iran continues to try to silence independent and peaceful voices speaking out for human rights and justice,” declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. FIDH will continue to support freedom of expression in Iran, and the right for individuals like Jafar Panahi to work in their chosen field and enjoy their most basic freedoms.”

Jafar Panahi was arrested on 1 March 2010 for allegedly making a film that was critical of the Iranian state and planning to project this film outside of Iran. He was released on bail in May 2010, and in December 2010 Branch 26 of the Islamic Revolution Court sentenced him to six years in prison for several charges including “assembly, colluding and propaganda against the state.” In addition, he was banned from all professional, public and social activities for 20 years, including filmmaking, writing scripts, travelling abroad and giving any interviews to domestic or foreign media. Panahi has however continued secretly making films and speaking out against the repression of the Iranian government. [1] He is a founding member of the ‘Step by Step to Stop the Death Penalty Campaign’ in Iran along with other prominent human rights defenders. In 2012 Panahi and human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh were jointly awarded the Sakahrov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament.

Iran ranks 173rd among 180 countries in the 2014 and 2015 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, and the government continues to harshly repress freedom of expression in almost every domain. Virtually all independent news websites are blocked in Iran, and many individuals – particularly human rights defenders and political dissidents – face harassment, threats, and imprisonment for peacefully expressing their opinions. In the last 12 months alone, more than 50 netizens were detained, some simply for having exchanged satirical private messages over their mobile phones. A number of them have been tried by the Islamic Revolution Courts and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 1 to 8 years. The reasons given by the State for such censorship are ambiguous charges such as “spreading propaganda against the State,” “publishing immoral content,” “acting against national security,” and “insulting religious sanctities.” At least two persons are known to be currently on death row for “cursing the prophet,” and one person was executed in 2014 for charges of “heresy.”

FIDH strongly condemns this ongoing violation of the right to freedom of expression and thought, and commends Jafar Panahi for his work to help share the views of so many Iranians whose voices are silenced by the Iranian government.

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