The Iranian House of Cinema has expressed “great concern” about the health condition of two jailed filmmakers - Jafar Panahi and Mozhgan Ilanlou - and urged the Islamic Republic to release them immediately.
The official guild of Iranian cineastes made the plea in a statement on February 3, two days after Panahi, one of the country’s best-known filmmakers, announced he was launching a hunger strike to protest his continued detention and “the illegal and inhumane behavior" of the judicial and security bodies.
"An unfortunate incident may happen at any moment due to his age and poor physical condition," the House of Cinema said, adding that Ilanlou is facing a "humiliating and severe sentence" in prison with a broken leg.
Earlier this month, Ilanlou was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 74 lashes after she published photos of herself without the mandatory headscarf.
The House of Cinema said that the authorities have refused to release the documentary maker and social activist on bail despite the verdict being preliminary.
Ilanlou’s arrest and prosecution came amid a brutal crackdown by the Islamic Republic on nationwide protests demanding more freedoms and women’s rights. More than 520 people have been killed so far and over 18,000 detained, activists say. Following biased trials, the judiciary handed down stiff sentences, including the death penalty, to protesters.
Panahi was arrested in early July 2022, before the eruption of the current wave of public anger, after he protested the detention of two other filmmakers.
He said on February 1 that he will “refuse to eat and drink any food and medicine” until his release.
The authorities decided to reactivate a sentence imposed on him in 2010, but his lawyer has argued it had passed Iran’s 10-year statute of limitations period and was no longer applicable. The filmmaker was granted permission to apply for a retrial in a move that should have resulted in his release on bail, but the authorities have blocked this.