In the wake of February’s national holiday, prominent prisoners in particular were released from prison. Tens of thousands remain in prison and arrests continue. Newly detained are four actors: Ali Baraghbani, Ramin Ramezanian, Hossein Padegan and Masih Kamali. This brings our list of arrested theater artists in Iran to 45. In the meantime, 15 have been released from prison after several months of imprisonment, 6 of them only temporarily.
March 8 is International Women’s Day. While the world public is following with disgust and indignation the recent series of poison attacks against girls’ schools in Iran, the 2nd Sahebdlan International Theater Festival in Iran invites in an email to the national ITI centers for March 7 to an online debate under the motto: „Human rights according to the Qur’an in the production of dramatic literature“. The ITI centers from Czech Republic, Finland, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland Uganda and USA, which are active in the Artists Rights Committee, declare together with the German centre: We received the call of the Sahebdlan International Theatre Festival with astonishment. We strongly reject the invitation to discuss human rights within the framework of the Qur’an in drama on the eve of International Women’s Day, while dozens of our Iranian performing arts colleagues are being held in prison or threatened with death for expressing their protest against arbitrariness, murder and state terror. We stand in solidarity with all people on stage and in the auditorium, on the street and in the universities, against the bloody violence perpetrated by the Iranian state against women and children in the name of the Qur’an!
Human Rights Activists in Iran (HRAI), founded 2005 in Iran, is a NGO which aims to promote, safeguard and sustain human rights in Iran. Since 2010 HRAI is registered as non-profit organization in the U.S.
The 62 pages report, published December 26, is based on 1.3342 cases, gathered from 267 news sources during 2022 [January 1st to December 20th]. 55% of reports analysed came from sources gathered and reported by Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), HRAI’s press association. 13% came from official Iranian government sources or sources close to the government. 32% of reports came from other human rights news agencies. The report has 13 chapters on different fields of Human Rights, as ethnic and religious rights, education, work and trade unions, children, women, gender and sexual minorities. The cases are also sorted by months and regions.
The chapter on violation of cultural rights reports 17 cases. This included reports of 7 arrests, 27 individuals summoned to judicial and security organizations, 4 trials held, 1 house search, 4 cases of obstruction and interference with publications, 1 case of stopping an event and speech, 2 cases of confiscation of property and belongings. In this category, arrests have increased by 16% compared to the previous year.
6.311 reports of violations against freedom of thought and expression have been registered. These violations included 2.2655 individuals arrested.
ACAR’S list of arrested Iranian theatre artists grows to 41 names: The revolution court of Tehran has announced 6 years jail sentence for Shiva Shabani, film and theater actress. She was arrested in early November in connection with nationwide protests and released on bail later that month.
Shabani was sentenced to five years for “assembly and collusion against national security” and an additional year for “propaganda against the state”. In addition to the six-year prison sentence, there is a two-year ban on leaving the country, a two-year ban on membership of political organizations, a ban on publishing in print and digital media, and a two-year ban on working in theatre and film.
ACAR shares and supports today’s address of solidarity from the Duesseldorfer Schauspielhaus: “Actor and artist Hossein Mohammadi was arrested during protests in Iran and sentenced to death in a summary trial. We declare our solidarity with our colleague Hossein Mohammadi and all protesters in Iran. We strongly condemn all human rights violations! We condemn the death penalty!”
Mohammadi, 26, was arrested on Nov. 5, 2022, and has been sentenced to execution by the court of the city of Karaj, along with four other protesters. He is accused of taking part in the murder of a member of the Basij militia. The execution of the death sentence is imminent.
Update: We publish a – surely not complete – list with Iranian theatre artists who have been or where arrested or sentenced because of their participation in the political protests since October 2022 (current status December 19, 2022). The list is regularly updated and can be downloaded here.