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‘Defend Our Civil Rights’: Ali Abbasi, Shirin Neshat and Bahman Ghobadi Pen Open Letter Following Death Of Mahsa Amini In Iran

Iranian filmmakers have united in penning an open letter to their friends and colleagues across the film industry, requesting their support in defending the rights of Iran’s people. 

The letter comes after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in custody, allegedly by police brutality, after her arrest for not wearing her hijab in accordance with government standards.

Their letter reads:

Dear Friends and Colleagues

Brave Iranians have taken to the streets across the country shouting “woman, life, liberty” for an entire week now while facing persistent, violent, and often deadly attacks from the oppressive forces.

The Iranian government has restricted internet usage and blocked access to social media platforms in order to further suppress people’s voices. Last time such measures were implemented in 2019, the Iranian government murdered 1500 people. Independent Iranian filmmakers are standing by these fearless Iranian women and men and are trying hard to capture and document history as it unfolds with limited resources.

They are committed to being the truthful, independent, and courageous narrators of history. To be the voice of the people. For years, the Iranian government has used censorship and repression at home under the guise of supporting freedom elsewhere in the world. We are now directly appealing to every filmmaker in the world: Your solidarity with the people of Iran sends a clear message to warmongers everywhere.

We ask you to further echo the rallying cries of Iranians for freedom. Become the voice of those people who are paying with their lives for freedom. Your direct and public support offers hope to our youths.Reporting on the news of violence used against our people can prevent more violence and bloodshed.

The letter is signed by Shirin Neshat, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Pegah Ahangarani, Bahman Ghobadi, Abdolreza Kahani, Ali Abbasi, Kaveh Farnam, Farzad Pak and Ali Ahmadzadeh.

The European Film Academy has responded. The Academy’s chairman, Irish producer/novelist Mike Downey said:

“The European Film Academy stands in full support of the Iranian film makers protesting against the current wave suppression spreading throughout Iran. There have been running battles between Iranian police and anti-government protesters in Tehran in the worst unrest there for years.

“The film industry and documentarians are being fearless in their attempts to record the crackdowns. Iran is now subject to the most severe internet restrictions seen since mass anti-government erupted in November 2019. We abhor censorship in all its forms and fully support Iranian film makers fighting for survival in a climate of terrible repression.”

Police reported that Mahsa Amini went into heart failure at a station and died after two days in a coma. Eyewitnesses and women who were detailed at the same time said she was severely beaten. Amini’s death resulted in a series of large-scale protests across the country which brought international attention.



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