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On the release of Jafar Panahi: Iran’s regime remains unpredictable

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No, it’s not over. The news on Friday that Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi was able to leave Tehran’s Ewin prison after a 48-hour dry hunger strike was greeted with relief internationally, including by the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlinale.

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The fact that thousands of political prisoners are still in Iranian prisons can only cover up the news with difficulty. Nor can it hide the arbitrariness of a regime that has continued to take drastic measures against critics since the violent death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amiri. Also in January protesters were executed, human lives, human rights are not worth much in Iran.

Panahi is out on bail. Does that mean he can be arrested again at any time? Certainly the country’s most prominent film artist is being harassed in order to silence less prominent ones as well. And he was probably allowed to go home because refusing water, medicine and food can quickly become life-threatening and Iran doesn’t want to afford the scandal of a death in prison.

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Despite this, the regime had no problem not releasing the 62-year-old, who had been detained since July, after October 18, when the Supreme Court overturned the 2010 verdict on the statute of limitations. The security authorities decide, the judiciary becomes a farce.

Mohammad Rasoulof, a gold bear winner like Panahi, who has also been imprisoned for six months, has been temporarily free since January 7 for health reasons. Actually only for two weeks, which means it can be picked up again at any time. The same applies to the multiple award-winning human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh.

At the beginning of January, the 38-year-old star actress Taraneh Alidoosti was released after three weeks. In solidarity with the protest movement, she had posted a photo of herself without a hijab and, even after her release, appeared in public again without a headscarf. “Any international organization that sees the bloodshed and does nothing is a disgrace to humanity,” she wrote from prison.

It’s a good thing that over 300 German politicians have sponsored prisoners – symbolic politics is better than none at all. Is it really pointless for the EU to put the Revolutionary Guards on the terror list? Several films will be shown at the Berlinale that tell of torture and executions in Iranian prisons. Hopefully they will run in sold-out halls.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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