March 2, 2010

Esteemed Film Maker Jafar Panahai Arrested

Radio Zamaneh reports (via Payvand.com) The Creator of revered films “The White Balloon” and “The Circle”, Jafar Panahi, was arrested in his home.
The director’s home was raided and security forces detained members of his family along with fifteen other guests; many of the guests were also prominent members of the film industry. The raid took over five hours and security forces confiscated various documents from Panahi’s residential home. Panahi is an outspoken supporter of the oppositional Green Movement and was previously arrested in September at a Behest-e-Zahra commemoration ceremony for post-election victims. The director was then prohibited from leaving the country and in effect banned from attending a panel discussion in the Berlin film festival.
Since late June, the Iranian government has been cracking down on members of the media, and the film industry has been no exception .  While the Iranian government has recently released a small number of journalists, perhaps to show good-will prior to the upcoming Iranian New Year, more and more reformist outlets are being shut down. Al Jareeza reports that reformist papers Etemaad and Iran Dokht, run by members of opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi’s family,  have joined the ranks of barred newspapers.

The press watchdog banned Etemad and referred the case to the judiciary for repeated and persistent violations,” ISNA News Agency said on Monday without giving the newspaper’s alleged offences.

Ghanbar Naderi, a journalist for the Iran Daily, an official government newspaper, told Al Jazeera that journalists have to censor much of what they write, irrespective of their political background.
“The press law in this country is very tough and unforgiving, it doesn’t make any difference if you are a reformist or a conservative media outlet,” he said.

Many are anticipating further government crackdowns during the new year Chaharshanbeh Souri events, as opposition groups are starting to mobilize and calling for nightly protests.

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