Amnesty International has joined with Cyan Films, the South Australian Film Corporation, the Adelaide Film Festival and film groups today in welcoming reports that Iranian Actress, Marzieh Vafemehr has been released without suffering 90 lashes and further imprisonment, in connection to her role in the Australian produced film My Tehran for Sale.
The reports come from the film’s director Granaz Moussavi, currently in New York, who has told Cyan Films and Amnesty International that Marzieh is now with family.
Marzieh’s seems to have been released after an appeal court reduced her imprisonment to three months and overturned the flogging sentence on Monday night. According to reports, the charges related to her appearance in one scene without the mandatory head covering which women in Iran are required to wear and appearing to drink alcohol in another scene, a point her husband Nasser Taghavi denies.
“As filmmakers we believe in freedom of speech and support all artists who are imprisoned and punished in Iran for expressing themselves through their art. We admire their courage and the contribution they make to sharing with the world their truth about life for Iranian people,” said Kate Croser and Julie Ryan of Cyan Films and producers of My Tehran for Sale.
“We are extremely pleased to hear that Marzieh has been released without being subjected to the cruel and degrading punishment of flogging, but the crackdown on filmmakers continues in Iran,” said Amnesty International’s Campaigns Manager, Hannah Harborow.
The human rights group is also calling for any charges related to similar activities to be dropped against film makers in Iran after a spate of similar sentences in the country.
“The targeting of film industry workers by the Iranian authorities is an abhorrent breach of their fundamental right to express themselves.
“Internationally celebrated directors Ja’far Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof are among other filmmakers that have both been sentenced by Iranian authorities. Just in the past days, it has been reported that a Tehran appeals court has upheld the six-year jail sentence and 20-year filmmaking and travel ban against Ja’far Panahi,” said Harborow.
The organisaton said it feared such punishment is being meted out to deter others from criticising the authorities, particularly in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for March 2012.