Iran: Filmmaker begins serving prison sentence

24 November 2016

Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi began serving his one-year prison sentence on 23 November 2016 on charges stemming from his 2012 film ‘Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr’ (‘Writing on the City’) on the history of Iranian graffiti and wall writing and how it has changed due to political and social events, reported AFP.

Karimi, who is from a Kurdish background, was originally charged in October 2015 with a six-year prison sentence and 223 lashes on charges of “insulting the sacred”, “spreading propaganda against the regime” and “illicit relations”. In February 2016 an appeals court upheld Karimi’s sentence, but suspended five years of the punishment, still requiring him to serve out one year in prison and receive 223 lashes.

The filmmaker’s sentencing came after nearly two years of hearings following his arrest in December 2013 when authorities found the film and a music video for exiled Iranian singer Shahin Najafi on his hard drive. Neither the film nor the music video had ever been screened for the public and the music video was still unfinished, reported PEN International on 21 November 2016.

According to the human rights organisation, Karimi believes the music video is what led to his arrest, which they found out about via other sources. The organisation reported on 21 November 2016 that Karimi received a summons to begin serving his sentence on 23 November 2016. He is expected to receive the lashes while in prison.

At the time of the appellate court’s decision, Karimi said: “I have no intention of leaving the country and shall serve the sentence. We can only hope to delay the process of going to jail.”

** UPDATE: The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported on 19 January 2017 that, according to Karimi’s lawyer Amir Raeesian, Evin Prison authorities have refused to transfer the filmmaker to a hospital to receive urgent medical care.

“My client called me this morning [18 January 2017] and said his pulmonary inflammation had worsened and he had thrown up blood,” Raeesian told the organisation. “He went to the prison clinic, but it’s not clear why the staff are refusing to transfer him to a hospital.”

Photo: Keywan Karimi Twitter profile


» International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – 19 January 2017:
Award-winning Kurdish filmmaker denied urgent hospitalization by Evin Prison authorities

» AFP – 23 November 2016:
Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi incarcerated in his country

» PEN International – 21 November 2016:
Iran: Prominent Kurdish filmmaker Keywan Karimi summoned to serve prison

More from Freemuse

» 25 February 2016: Iran: Filmmaker loses appeal, receives reduced prison sentence and lashes

» 4 November 2015: Iran: Filmmaker sentenced to six-year prison term and 223 lashes

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