AFP: Europe’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday called for the repeal of a six-year jail sentence and 20-year ban on film-making against prominent Iranian director Jafar Panahi.
PARIS, January 11, 2011 (AFP) – Europe’s foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday called for the repeal of a six-year jail sentence and 20-year ban on film-making against prominent Iranian director Jafar Panahi.
Ashton said the December sentences, coupled with bans on giving interviews and travelling abroad, would prevent Panahi from “exercising his fundamental right to freedom of expression”, enshrined in the international rights code to which Iran is a party.
A statement said Ashton “hopes the sentence will be repealed at the upcoming appeal proceedings” and also hoped to hear “positive news” about Panahi’s colleague, young filmmaker Mohammed Rasoulof, who received the same sentences.
“The EU calls on Iran to live up to those international obligations, including the right to freedom of expression through art and writing.
“This case is all the sadder given the high international reputation of the Iranian film industry and Iranian filmmakers,” the statement added.
Panahi, 50, widely known for award-winning films such as “The Circle”, “Crimson Gold” and “Offside”, was sentenced to jail for “propaganda against the system” after making a film about unrest in Iran after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.
The decision has caused waves of protest across the film world.
His detention in March last year for making the film sparked petitions from dozens of cinema figures inside and outside Iran signed by leading directors including Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.
In February the Iranian authorities banned Panahi from leaving the country to attend the 2010 edition of the Berlin Film Festival.
Cannes then invited Panahi to join its own jury in May, while he was still in prison.
Headed by “Alice in Wonderland” director Tim Burton, the panel called for his release and left a seat symbolically empty for him on stage at the festival’s red-carpet gala opening.