Director and actress Soheila Golestani was imprisoned and banned from working in Iran for her public performance on the web about her refusal to wear a head covering in public (November 2022).
One year later, she was invited to the festival “Three Days to Liberation” by the Volksbühne Berlin for a preview screening of scenes from her film “There Were Three of Us” and her VR installation about flight and migration “If You Go Away”. Her visa application was rejected by the German embassy in Tehran and only approved two days after the end of the festival following an intervention by the German Foreign Office.
After several moments of absence, the Morality Police is back on the streets in Iran. Sunday, July 16 security forces attacked the home of the actor and woman rights defender Mohammad Sadeghi and arrested him because he posted a video expressing his anger over the detention of yet another woman in morality police hands due to her inappropriate hijab. Sadeghi shared his arresting live on Instagram.
The actor Mehdi Etemad Saeed was arrested by security forces on June 9, 2023, in Tehran and is still detained in legal ambiguity. He was reportedly denied access to legal representation and has been charged with “promoting impurity and indecency.” Etemad Saeed’s whereabouts are still unknown.
Mohammadi was arrested on Nov. 5, 2022, and has been sentenced to execution by the court of the city of Karaj. The death sentence was lifted in January 2023. A new trial in Karaj has now been held to decide on the sentences of 14 accused in connection with the death of a Bassij militiaman. Mohammadi, who has been in custody since November, has now been sentenced to 10 years in prison. The detention of the accused had initially been justified by their participation in a memorial service for Hadis Najafi, who was killed by Basijis during a demonstration in Karaj at the end of September. Two demonstrators were executed earlier this year as part of the major trial that eventually heard charges of “corruption on earth” and “conspiracy against internal and external security”: Mohammad Mehdi Karami and Seyed Mohammad Hosseini.
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.