Iranian Cinematographers Post Video Messages Criticizing Government Response To Unrest


Several members of a prominent Iranian cinematographers' union have posted online video messages criticizing the Islamic republic's handling of ongoing unrest and warned government officials, including the head of Iran's state television, to stop suppressing the protests.

This series of conversations was recorded at the Iranian cinema house, the largest union of Iranian cinematographers, and published on the union's YouTube channel.

"This violence may involve us for several generations, and it is painful," said Mohammad Mehdi Asgarpour, the chairman of the Iranian Cinema House, referring to the brutal crackdown unleashed by the government on protesters demonstrating against the death of a young woman while being detained by police for an alleged violation of the country's head scarf law.

"Many young people believe that the government has a paradigm for not accepting its mistakes and even if it makes a mistake, it does not take a step back," added Asgarpour.

Protesters have flooded streets in Iran since Mahsa Amini died on September 16.

The wave of anti-government protests -- the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution -- has been met with violence from security forces that rights groups say has killed almost 500 people, including 62 children.

Officials, who have blamed the West for the demonstrations, have vowed to crack down even harder on protesters, with the judiciary leading the way after the unrest entered a fourth month.

In his video post, Iranian filmmaker Homayoun Assadian accused the government of humiliating the Iranian people and filmmakers.

Criticizing recent statements of Peyman Jebelli, the head of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), saying artists participating in the protests could be banned from working, Assadian said: "Who do you think you are to give us dignity or a job? The IRIB is just a building, everything it has is from artists."

Iranian actor Shahab Hosseini added that if there was another way to express protest, no one would have taken to the streets.

"Who wants to give up his life and go out into the street and get beaten and shot and killed, just to defend his rights?” Hosseini added.

Since Amini's death, most artists have canceled performances as a show of support for the protesters.

Several Iranian cinematographers and prominent public figures have been summoned by the police or arrested, including actress Taraneh Alidoosti and director Hamid Pourazari. Other celebrities, including actor Hamid Farrokhnejad, have been interrogated and have had their passports confiscated after showing support for the protests.

Actor Hossein Mohammadi, 26, faces a death sentence after he was reportedly tortured into making a confession to security forces who were looking to pin the blame on him and 15 others for the death of a member of the Basij paramilitary force during a demonstration.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda