Panahi charged, still in jail

Putting all the irrelevant partisan palaver about the Jafar Panahi situation behind us, the latest news is not very heartening.

As noted in this "Huffington Post" item by Virginia M. Moncrieff, the Iranian authorities, after holding Panahi prisoner for over six weeks, have finally disclosed their charge against him: he's accused of making an "anti-government movie" in his home. His family emphatically denies this accusation.

As reported earlier, Panahi has been held in a tiny cell since March 1 and has been undergoing continuous interrogations.  His health has suffered and he has apparently been treated for heart problems.

What exactly are the Iranians trying to accomplish by this? An exiled Iranian film reviewer, who requested anonymity, is quoted in the Huffington Post article explaining that "there's a long history of interrogating the filmmakers in Iran. Sometimes they are warned about activities, and in other cases they are coerced to make a movie that advocates the agenda of the regime." He added that  Panahi is "under emotional pressure to sign what his interrogators dictate to him. He was treated respectfully they say, but they have confined him to a very small cell where he can hardly move."

I'm reminded of Alec Guinness as Col. Nicholson in "The Bridge on the River Kwai" standing firm for his principles while suffering similar mistreatment . Jafar Panahi is demonstrating the same kind of resolve.

He's made many films that inspire us with their humanity. Now he does so with his courage in the face of this injustice.

By the way, if you think Hollywood should get more involved in protesting this situation, you can contact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences here. (Thanks to the "Why We Protest -- Iran" website).

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