On the last July 11, we got news of Jafar Panahi’s arrest. Panahi had been visiting the prosecutor’s office to inquire about other two arrests, those of fellow directors Mohammad Rasoulof and Mostafa Aleahmad. According to the prosecution, the two participated via social media to the protest that followed the collapse of a building in Abadan last May, which caused the death of 43 people. Mere days later, Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison for a crime he supposedly committed in 2010: “propaganda against the establishment”.
The sentence has lain unexecuted for a time, though left Panahi in a state of conditional freedom that might be revoked at any time. Panahi bravely ignored the conditions of his earlier release and kept making clandestine films – This Is Not a Film, Closed Curtain, Taxi, Three Faces, and No Bears, presented at the Venice Film Festival. All films, with the partial exception of Three Faces, have been shot at Panahi’s house or inside a taxi driving around Tehran.
This judicial persecution violently interrupted what appeared to be a compromise, an acceptance of the status quo by the Iranian regime. We can only hope that Panahi can soon be freed of what appears to be an intolerable instance of arbitrary detention.