Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi on hunger strike

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi on hunger strike

May 21, 2010

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi began a hunger strike in Tehran's Evin prison, where he has been held for more than two months on security charges.  

A Paris-based Iranian cultural center has released a letter by Panahi. He says the hunger strike is a way to protest his treatment in prison. He wants to see his family and be sure that they are safe. He demands access to a lawyer and his unconditional release.

In his letter, Panahi says that he has been accused of filming inside his prison cell, officials have threatened to arrest his family and send them to Evin prison, and take his daughter to a dangerous detention center.

He will not give up his hunger strike until his demands are met. "My only demand is to deliver my body to my family so that they can burry me wherever they want," he says.

Panahi, who has received a number of international awards including the Golden Lion at the 2000 Venice Festival, was arrested at his home in March. A number of prominent filmmakers, including Oliver Stone and Stephen Spielberg, have called for his release.