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Iranian director Jafar Pahani begins prison hunger strike (UPDATED)

Jafar Panahi, the Iranian director of "The White Balloon" and "Offside," was supposed to have been on this year's Cannes Film Festival jury, but he was arrested by Iranian authorities in March. His countryman Abbas Kiarostami devoted much of his Cannes press conference to raising worldwide awareness of Pahani's plight. Pahani released a message Tuesday, published online at La Règle du Jeu, declaring that he and fellow political prisoners at Evin prison have begun a hunger strike:

I hereby declare that I have been subject to ill treatment in Evin prison.

On Saturday May 15, 2010, prison guards suddenly entered our cell, n° 56. They took us away, my cell mates and I, made us strip and kept us in the cold for an hour and a half.

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UPDATE (05/25/2010): via Salon.com: "Iranian director finds freedom and moral victory." Of course, he's still in Iran...

UPDATE (05/21/2010): via New York Times: "Detained Iranian Director Granted Hearing"

Sunday morning, they brought me to the interrogation room and accused me of having filmed the interior of my cell, which is completely untrue. Then they threatened to imprison my entire family at Evin and to mistreat my daughter in an unsafe prison in the city of Rejayi Shahr.

I have eaten and drunk nothing since Sunday morning, and I declare that if my wishes are not respected, I will continue to abstain from drinking and eating. I do not want to be a rat in a laboratory, victim of their sick games, threatened and psychologically tortured.

My wishes are :

- The possibility to contact and see my family, and the complete assurance that they are safe.

- The right to retain and communicate with an attorney, after 77 days of imprisonment.

- Unconditional liberty until the day of my judgment and the final verdict

- Finally, I swear upon what I believe in, the cinema : I will not cease my hunger strike until my wishes are satisfied.

My final wish is that my remains be returned to my family, so that they may bury me in the place they choose.

Source : Centre culturel Pouya, Tuesday, May 18, 2010, Cannes

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