Posts Tagged ‘iran’

Amin Maher, Actor in Abass Kiarostami’s “Ten” and Son of Mania Akbari Arrested

June 23, 2009

This email just came across my desk from a colleague in Iran:

Amin Maher, the actor in Abass Kiarostami’s movie “Ten” and son of Mania Akbari artist and director got arrested. Mania states:” It was Tuesday around ten in the evening, when I first heard of my son’s arrest. I got shocked and I found myself in total despair. Amin is only seventeen years old and is currently in eleventh grade and attending the  program in his school. I immediately started to look for him, experiencing very hard and painful moments. Moments that neither cinema nor any other kind of art will ever be able to express. What I went through and witnessed that night is not easy to describe…I had no idea where they had taken my son to, therefore I stared looking in every ambulance, every police station and every
hospital in town. I came face to face with other parents looking for their children as well. Mothers screaming and calling the names of their sons and daughters. Fathers weeping silently. Terrified kids in police stations awaiting their faith…it was a total nightmare. A nightmare that will remain with all of us for the rest of our lives. It was early Wednesday morning when I finally found my son at the Pasdaran’s police station. The reasons for his arrest were that he was wearing a green band to show his support for Mr. Moussavi and also that he had been identified as an active participant during the presidential campaign. Finally on Wednesday he was released with the intervention of some friends, artists and some related police authorities. Amin had been  subjected to serious beatings and emotional disturbance. I felt ashamed of seeing him in his condition. I had created a false illusion for him regarding the country he had been born in, about prevailing humanism and democratic atmosphere. I had always encouraged him to consider going to top universities in Iran, instead of opting
for studying abroad. I remember talking to the press a while ago, mentioning humanity, the love for people, patriotism and the positive way of thinking towards a democratic society.

Unfortunately now I have to express my disagreement with the
ever-increasing violence in our society today. Violence is not the answer and freedom will only be attained through
respecting the democratic rights of each and every human being. Although my son took the beating from the opposition group, I as a mother and an artist oppose to any violence under any circumstances. Today I would like to take this opportunity to ask my fellow artists, friends and family to participate in promoting a peaceful approach and strongly condemn any kind of violence. Therefore I hope to be able to live in my country Iran, where I will never have to see another club nor another whip.

– Mania Akbari

Filmmaker James Longley Temporarily Detained in Iran

June 14, 2009

Just got this email about Iraq In Fragments filmmaker James Longley:

Academy-Award nominated documentary filmmaker (Iraq In Fragments), James Longley, has been working on a film in Iran. Recently James traveled to Tehran to cover the elections. On the day after the elections (Sunday), James was detained and then later released.

James describes what happened:
“About three hours ago I was interviewing people on the street in downtown Tehran with my translator, not far from the Ministry of Interior building.

There were some riot police about 100 meters away at the other end of the street.

A couple people spoke to the camera – one young woman was saying that “The riot police are beating people like animals. The situation here is very bad; we need the UN to come and help with a recount of the votes!”

At about that time a plain-clothes security guy started grabbing my arm, and together with several uniformed police they dragged me and my translator off to the Ministry of Interior building.

I fared much better than my translator, whom they punched and kicked in the groin. They ripped off his ID and snatched away both our cameras. A passing police officer sprayed my translator in the face with pepper spray, although he was already being marched along the pavement by three policemen.

Unfortunately my camera was still recording and the battery was dislodged in the hubbub, destroying the video file of the interview.

As we reached the Ministry of Interior building they separated us and dragged my translator by his arms across the floor and down a flight of stairs; he eventually regained his footing on the second two flights of stairs leading downward to the holding cell, where about twenty people who had already been grabbed off the streets were kneeling on the floor in the darkened room with their hands tied behind their backs.

All during this process my translator was being kicked and sworn at. The police told him how they “would put their dicks in his ass” and how “your mother/sister is a whore” and so on. At one point he was beaten with a belt buckle. At another moment, they beat him with a police truncheon across his back, leaving a nasty welt.

My translator kept on insisting that he was an officially authorized translator working with an American journalist – which is perfectly true.

At this time I was above ground, in the entrance to the ministry, yelling over and over at the police to “Bring me my translator!” It was clear that they didn’t intend to beat me – although they may have wanted to – because I was a foreigner.

After a few minutes they relented and sent someone off to retrieve my translator from their holding cell, three floors down in the Ministry of Interior building.

They came into the holding cell and shouted “Where is the translator?!” and then, when he identified himself, they beat him again for “not telling them he was a translator.”

An English-speaking riot policeman tried to sweet-talk me, saying that in a riot situation anything can happen. I might have taken him more seriously had a riot actually been taking place when we were arrested. He also asked my translator to convince me not to report what had happened.

Eyewitnesses are reporting that fully-credentialed foreign journalists are similarly being detained all over Tehran today. The deputy head of the Ministry of Guidance just told me on the phone that other journalists have also been beaten, and that the official permissions no longer work. Also, foreign journalist visas are not being extended, so all of those people who were allowed in to cover the elections are now being forced out in the messy aftermath.

All in all, it made me really question what I am doing in this country. It has become impossible to work as a journalist without the risk of physical violence from the government.”

Photo taken right before James and his translator were detained, making it obvious that there was no riot when they were grabbed off the street

Photo taken right before James and his translator were detained, making it obvious that there was no riot when they were grabbed off the street