On 13 October 2015, after nearly two years of hearings, the 30-year-old Iranian filmmaker Keywan Karimi was sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes.
He was arrested on 14 December 2013 on charges of “insulting the sacred,” “propaganda against the regime,” and “illicit relations.” According to Karimi’s lawyer, Amir Raeesian, most of the charges were brought against the filmmaker over his 2012-film ‘Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr’ (Writing on the City), which is about the history of graffiti in Tehran and how it has changed due to social and political events.
This was reported by IranWire. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran explained that some of the scenes in the film relate to the protests that ensued after the 2009 presidential elections, which is what “irked” authorities according to a source close to the filmmaker.
Further, Raessian claimed that the judgment was not only illegal because “the maximum sentence for insulting the sacred is five years,” but also because the judgment was made before the trial was over, citing that Karimi’s last trial session took place on 22 September 2015, while the verdict date was 22 June 2015.
Lawyer: Permits were in order
The film, produced by the University of Tehran, has not been screened anywhere, Raeesian insisted, and had all the necessary permits. None of Karimi’s work had been done without permits, he said.
Raessian also explained that Karimi’s “illicit relations” charge was because he allegedly shook hands with a woman to whom he was not related.
In September 2015, Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani was charged over the same action when she shook her lawyer’s hand, which could further extend her current 12-year-and-nine-month prison sentence for a satirical cartoon. Charges for the handshake were also brought to her lawyer, Mohammad Moghimi.
The filmmaker’s sentencing comes in the same month wherein two Iranian poets, Fatemeh Ekhtesari and Mehdi Moosavi, were sentenced to 11.5 and nine years respectively, and 99 lashes each, for “insulting the holy sanctities.”
Keywan Karimi is both a fiction and documentary filmmaker and was released on bail after his initial arrest, in which he spent 12 days in solitary confinement.
His films have been shown at international film festivals and include ‘Marz-e Shekasteh’ (Broken Border), which won best short documentary at the 2013 Beirut International Film Festival, and ‘The Adventure of the Married Couple,’ screened at several European festivals.
Note: Karimi’s first name is spelled in various ways: Keyvan, Keivan, Kayvan. On his own Vimeo account, he spells it Keywan.
— Le Monde (@lemondefr) October 25, 2015
» International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – 19 October 2015:
Kurdish Filmmaker’s Six-Year Prison Sentence and 223 Lashes Illegal, Says Lawyer
» IranWire – 15 October 2015:
Iranian Filmmaker Sentenced to Six Years in Prison and 223 Lashes
» Artsfreedom.org – 15 October 2015:
Iran: Two poets sentenced to flogging and lengthy imprisonment
» Artsfreedom.org – 18 September 2015:
Iran: Imprisoned cartoonist possibly prosecuted over handshake