Detention of Photojournalist Nooshin Jafari Upsets Iran’s Artistic Community

By Azadeh Karimi

More than 200 people in the Iranian film and theater community have released a statement expressing their concerns about the wellbeing of Nooshin Jafari, a photojournalist and culture reporter who was arrested by security police on August 3 on unspecified charges.

According to unofficial sources, security agents arrested Nooshin’s sister Shahrzad Jafari at her house on September 1. The authorities had reportedly warned Ms. Jafari against releasing any information about her sister to the media.

“It has been nearly a month since Nooshin Jafari, a photojournalist and culture reporter, was arrested. During that time, her family has spoken to her only once on the phone. They have also heard her pleas and trembling voice declaring her innocence [in an audio clip posted] on social media,” the statement from the artistic community said.

“As members of the art, culture, film and theater family, we believe that she is innocent, and are deeply concerned about our colleague’s wellbeing and current state, especially given the manner of her arrest, lack of transparency regarding charges leveled against her and her inability to get a lawyer. We, therefore, call for a thorough investigation into her grave condition and ask [the authorities] to safeguard her rights as a prisoner to due process, legal representation, and humane treatment.”

The signatories to the statement included prominent film directors Jafar Panahi, Mohsen Amiryoussefi, Rakhshan Banietemad, Mohammad Rasoulof and actors Ahnaz Afshar, Pegah Ahangarani, Hamed Behdad, Hedieh Tehrani, Taraneh Alidoosti, Reza Kianian, and Baran Kosari.

“They arrested Nooshin’s sister Shahrzad Jafari this morning. They had warned her not to reveal any information about her sister’s condition. They raided her house early in the morning. Are you true Muslims? Her mother is beside herself. God damn you,” a tweet by @shivanzrahari said.

Parvaneh Salahshouri, a Majlis (Iranian Parliament) deputy representing Tehran, Rey, Shemiranat and Eslamshahr electoral districts, has criticized the imprisonment of Nooshin Jafari and two labor activists Marzieh Amiri and Atefeh Rangriz who were arrested at a protest on the International Workers’ Day on May 1. Ms. Amiri and Ms. Rangriz were, respectively, sentenced to 10 and 11 years in prison and 147 and 74 lashes.

“There are young women in prison who demand justice,” Mrs. Salahshouri said during a speech at the Majlis. “Article 27 of the Constitution guarantees the public’s right to freedom of assembly. However, several labor activists who took part in a protest near the Majlis on the International Workers’ Day were arrested. Some of them were later released, but others remain in prison. Marzieh Amiri and Atefeh Rangriz were sentenced, respectively, to 10 and 11 years in prison and lashes for protesting in the street. Meanwhile, those convicted of embezzlements, such as a case involving an official from Samen Alhojaj Finance and Credit Institute, are given only a15-year prison sentence. Is this Islamic Justice?”

“They arrested a young photographer by the name of Nooshin Jafari who is still in prison,” Salahshouri added. “Her cry for justice has gone viral on social media. We ask the Ministry of Intelligence and the prosecutor’s office to show Islamic mercy in their treatment of the passionate youths who take part in protests. There was a renewed hope for justice after Mr. [Ebrahim] Raisi became the head of the Judiciary [in March]. However, we are witnessing the same court rulings that existed under former judiciary chiefs.”

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]