Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr released from jail

28 October, 2011 by Brendan Swift

Iranian actress Marzieh Vafamehr has been released from jail, according to Amnesty International.

Vafamehr was sentenced to 90 lashes and one year in jail for her role in the feature film My Tehran For Sale, sparking outrage among the local film community, which petitioned for her release. My Tehran For Sale was partially funded by the South Australian Film Corporation.


Vafamehr had already served four months in jail but has now been released after her sentence was reduced to three months and no corporal punishment.

Actors Equity Australia director Simon Whipp welcomed the news.

“However, it is deeply disturbing that any performer could be found guilty of committing a crime and sentenced to three months in jail for appearing in a feature film," he said in a statement. "We remain concerned that any performer could receive such harsh treatment for simply doing their job and that artistic expression could be censored in such a way.”

The charges were apparently related to her appearance in one scene without a head covering and appearing to drink alcohol in another scene, according to a statement from the Amnesty International and the Adelaide Film Festival. Her husband Nasser Taghavi denies she drank alcohol.

More than 9000 people signed Actors Equity’s petition calling for her immediate release. Whipp said internaional organisations including the Screen Actors Guild and the International Federation of Actors also campaigned for her release.

The film’s director Granaz Moussavi, currently in New York, has told Cyan Films Kate Croser and Julie Ryan, who produced the film, and Amnesty International, that Vafamehr is now with family.

“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. We admire their courage and the contribution they make to sharing with the world their truth about life for Iranian people,” said My Tehran for Sale producers Kate Croser and Julie Ryan in a statement.

Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Middle East and North Africa, said an increasing number of filmmakers and actors have recently been targeted for persecution in Iran.

"While the release of Marzieh Vafamehr is a welcome development, 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."

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More information and avenues to provide support can be found at Amnesty International's website.