Prominent Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi, has gone on a hunger strike since Sunday, 16 May 2010, to protest abuse and ill-treatment as well as continuous threats against his family members.

During a telephone call to his family today, Panahi said he has been on a hunger strike and read a letter to them which he asked to be released to Iranian media.

In the letter published by his family, Panahi stated that authorities have threatened to arrest his entire family. “On Saturday night [15 May 2010] agents attacked Evin’s Cell 56, forcing me and my cellmates to go outdoors without any clothing and kept us in the cold weather for one and half hours,” he wrote.

“On Sunday morning, they took me to an interrogation room and accused me of filming the inside of my cell, which is absolutely false. They then threatened to arrest my entire family and transfer them to Evin Prison, and to send my daughter to an unsafe detention center in Rajaie Shahr, ” Panahi added.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran condemns the inhumane threats made against Panahi. The Campaign holds Iranian authorities directly responsible for any harm which may come to Panahi’s physical health. The Campaign is further concerned that Jafar Panahi’s courageous action to reveal his illegal and inhumane treatment may result in increased physical and psychological torture.

Regarding his decision to go on a hunger strike, Panahi said:  “I have not taken any food or liquids since Sunday morning [16 May 2010], and I would like to announce that unless the following demands are met, I will continue to refrain from eating and drinking, as I do not wish to turn into a guinea pig who is put under various torture, psychological and mental abuse, and subjected to false accusations.”

He made the following demands for ending his hunger strike:

“1. Contacting and visiting with my family to ensure their complete health.

2.  The right to have and consult with a lawyer after 77 days of detention.

3. Unconditional release until my trial date and final verdict.”

In the end, Panahi has said, “I swear upon the cinema in which I believe, that I will not stop my hunger strike until my demands are met. My only demand is for my body to be delivered to my family to bury wherever they like.  This letter was written at 11:00 a.m. on 18 May 2010.”

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