Close to 240 different Iranian actors, directors and writers have co-signed a joint statement in support of the water protests in Khuzestan, castigating the “thieves” they say have looted Iran’s natural resources and culture and calling for official resignations.
In the short message posted on Instagram on Wednesday, the consortium of filmmakers said the protesters had been victims of oppression, violence and discrimination. If the situation continues, they added, it could lead to the “destruction” of Iran. The group signed off with the now-popular Persian Twitter hashtag, #Solidarity_with_khuzestan.
Among the signatories were prominent Iranian names in cinema including Mohammad Rasulov, Masoud Kimiaei, Jafar Panahi, Abdolreza Kahani, Bahman Ghobadi, Mohammad Shirvani, Negar Javaherian, Ali Mosafa, Hamid Nematullah, Hamid Pour-Azari, Mahtab Keramati, Mahnaz Mohammadi and Mustafa Al-Ahmad.
Several actors and cinema directors also gathered in front of the Iranian Artists’ Forum and Artists’ House buildings in Tehran on Wednesday, holding up placards in support of the protests.
In a separate statement, Khaneh Cinema, also known as the Iranian Alliance of Motion Pictures Guilds, threw its weight behind the protesters. “Khuzestan has undoubtedly paid a large part of our country's financial and human expenses during the last hundred years,” it read, “especially during the war. It is not appropriate that its people and their bodies be beaten and injured. Do what you have to do, before it's too late."
The Writers' Association of Iran has also echoed these sentiments in its own public statement on the protests. “No one has the right to respond with bullets and tear gas, or with facilitating suppression,” the group wrote. “Nor to call just and peaceful protests ‘playing in enemy territory’."
The Tehran Teachers' Union was also forthright in its condemnation of how officials have managed the unrest: “The responsibility for the people’s bloodshed and misery lies with the leaders and decision-makers of the Iranian government. More young people from this land are being buried in Khuzestan this time, getting only bullets in response to their demands."
Five people are known to have been killed so far by police and security forces since the protests first erupted last Friday, prompted by severe water shortages in Khuzestan.