Iranian actress spared lashes and released


The Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr who was sentenced to one year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in an Australian movie has been released according to a report on Friday in the British newspaper The Telegraph.

“My Tehran for Sale” tells the story of a young Iranian actress in Tehran whose work is outlawed by authorities and was directed by Granaz Moussavi, an Iranian Australian filmmaker.

The film was banned in Iran because it criticized the regime’s harsh policies but it found its way into the country. Vafamehr was arrested in July this year for her role.

The movie’s producers believe Vafamehr may have been sentenced for appearing in the movie without the hijab but, as The Telegraph reports, she has appeared in other Iranian films without the headscarf so the punishment seemed particularly harsh.

On Friday, the international rights group Amnesty International along with Cyan Films released the statement about Vafamehr’s release from jail. Her sentence was reduced to three months and the decision to give her 90 lashings was overturned it said.

“As filmmakers we believe in freedom of speech and support all artists who are imprisoned and punished in Iran for expressing themselves through their art,” Cyan Films producers Kate Croser and Julie Ryan said in a statement.

Sentences for public flogging are not always carried out in Iran.

A student was lashed 74 times earlier this year for insulting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Peyman Aref was whipped in front of his wife and family, with pictures taken after his release from prison showing his back covered in bloody wounds writes The Telegraph.

Ahmadinejad later criticized the decision to lash Aref.

Amnesty International official Hassiba Hadj Sahrouni expressed her concerns about the treatment meted out to people working in the film industry in Iran.

“In recent months an increasing number of filmmakers and actors have been targeted for persecution in Iran,” she was quoted as saying in an interview to ABC news in Australia.

Amnesty says the documentary directors, Hadi Afarideh, Naser Saffarian, Mohsen Shahrnazdar, and producer and distributor Katayoun Shahabi were arrested back in September.

“It is deeply worrying that three filmmakers are still being held in Tehran’s Evin prison.

“Their continued detention illustrates the Iranian authorities’ desperate efforts to stifle any form of dissent. These people have done nothing except sell their documentaries to a foreign broadcaster or make a film about a banned director. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.”