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Panahi: 'They Can Not Keep Me from Dreaming'; Month of Bahman Banned!

12 Feb 2011 17:46Comments

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Homepage: Still from Panahi's "Crimson Gold" (2003)

Iranian Filmmaker Jafar Panahi Writes Open Letter to Berlin Film Festival

Statement by Jafar Panahi (Berlin Film Festival) | Feb 11

The world of a filmmaker is marked by the interplay between reality and dreams. The filmmaker uses reality as his inspiration, paints it with the color of his imagination, and creates a film that is a projection of his hopes and dreams.

The reality is I have been kept from making films for the past five years and am now officially sentenced to be deprived of this right for another twenty years. But I know I will keep on turning my dreams into films in my imagination. I admit as a socially conscious filmmaker that I won't be able to portray the daily problems and concerns of my people, but I won't deny myself dreaming that after twenty years all the problems will be gone and I'll be making films about the peace and prosperity in my country when I get a chance to do so again.

The reality is they have deprived me of thinking and writing for twenty years, but they can not keep me from dreaming that in twenty years inquisition and intimidation will be replaced by freedom and free thinking.

They have deprived me of seeing the world for twenty years. I hope that when I am free, I will be able to travel in a world without any geographic, ethnic, and ideological barriers, where people live together freely and peacefully regardless of their beliefs and convictions.

They have condemned me to twenty years of silence. Yet in my dreams, I scream for a time when we can tolerate each other, respect each other's opinions, and live for each other.

Ultimately, the reality of my verdict is that I must spend six years in jail. I'll live for the next six years hoping that my dreams will become reality. I wish my fellow filmmakers in every corner of the world would create such great films that by the time I leave the prison I will be inspired to continue to live in the world they have dreamed of in their films.

So from now on, and for the next twenty years, I'm forced to be silent. I'm forced not to be able to see, I'm forced not to be able to think, I'm forced not to be able to make films.

I submit to the reality of the captivity and the captors. I will look for the manifestation of my dreams in your films, hoping to find in them what I have been deprived of.

Turkish Filmmaker Turns Down Iranian Film Award in Protest

Radio Zamaneh | Feb 11

Turkish filmmaker Semih Kaplanoğlu is turning down an award from Iran's Fajr International Film Festival to protest the Islamic Republic's sentencing of Iranian filmmakers Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulov, Iran Balkan website reports.

In addition to being sentenced to six years in prison for "propaganda against the regime," Panahi and Rasoulov are banned from filmmaking for 20 years.

Kaplanoğlu, who won the best screenplay award for his film "Bal" (Honey), had previously voiced his objection to the sentences by signing a joint letter of protest. He also condemned Panahi's incarceration in a public speech at Beyoğlu Cinema in Istanbul.

Kaplanoğlu said [that he and the film's distributor] discovered the film was running in the festival only after they were informed about the screenplay award.


Iran Blocks 'Bahman' from Google Search Results ahead of '25 Bahman' Rally

Green Voice of Freedom | Feb 11

Iran's telecommunications company has filtered out the word "Bahman" from the results of internet search engine Google.

GVF reporters have confirmed that just three days ahead of opposition protests on 14 February (25 Bahman on the Iranian calendar), internet users in Iran are now unable to search for the word "Bahman" -- the 11th month of the Iranian calendar -- on Google. The month of Bahman begins on 21st January and ends on 20 February.


Hacking Group 'Anonymous' to Iranians: 'You Express Yourself, We're Listening, We Support You, Expect Us'

Green Voice of Freedom | Feb 12

The hacking collective "Anonymous" has launch distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the website of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The group's "Operation Iran" was set to begin at 1pm local time on Friday and is an online protest of what the group called in a press release "chains of oppression, tyranny and torture." The attacks were intended to coincide with commemorations on the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

A YouTube video created by the group shows scenes from the violent suppressions that followed the 2009 presidential election, while a digitally modified voice details the group's mission: "To the noble people of Iran: We know how great you are. You have been killed, jailed, tortured and silenced by the illegal regime which has hijacked your country for the past 32 years, and yet you still rose up last year against a force that you knew meant ill harm. They may kill one person every eight hours but they can't kill your fighting spirit, they can't kill your freedom. Know that we support you. Know that you are not alone. We are Anonymous, we are legion. We do not forgive, we do not forget. Expect us."


Iran's Head of Guardian Council Flaunts Control over Elections

Radio Zamaneh | Feb 11

Ahmad Jannati, the hardline cleric in charge of Iran's Guardian Council, announced today that the Council "will not allow unsavoury individuals to attain the smallest position in the country," regardless of their popularity.

Speaking in Esfahan, at the annual February 11 march celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, Jannati said: "The sedition of 2009 has been destroyed, but the leaders of that sedition, while having lost all credibility with the people, are sitting at home and dreaming that they have a place among the people and are making plans for a march on February 14."

"The people have already marched today in solidarity with the people of Egypt and Tunisia," Jannati said today. "I hope the sedition leaders come to their senses but I wonder if the people will ever accept them again or not."

Noting that [Mir Hossein] Mousavi and [Mehdi] Karroubi have not been arrested or charged so far, Jannati said: "There is no need to prosecute the leaders of sedition. The people have sentenced the leaders of sedition by their presence in the arena."

Jannati, whose Guardian Council is in charge of approving candidates and supervising the elections, touched on next year's parliamentary elections, saying: "A group of unsavoury individuals, who have separated themselves from the path of the people, are sitting on the sides plotting, and thinking that they can occupy parliamentary seats and cheat the Guardian Council."

Iranian reformists have always spoken out against the Guardian Council's arbitrary rejection of reformist candidates. Most recently, Mohammad Khatami, Iran's former president and a top reformist leader, said he and other reformists will only participate in the elections if the government guarantees complete transparency in the voting process.

Jannati mocked Khatami by saying there was no need for reformists to participate in the elections at all.

Iranian Government 'Scared' by Egypt Upheaval -- W. House

Reuters | Feb 11

A clampdown by the Iranian government on media coverage of the unrest in Egypt exposes how deeply the authorities in Tehran fear their own people, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Friday.

"What you've seen in the region is the government of Iran, quite frankly, scared of the will of its people," Gibbs said. "The government of Iran...has met...the concerns of its people with threatening to kill them."

Asked if the White House would like to see a similar transition in Tehran [as occurred in Egypt], Gibbs said the important thing was that the Iranian authorities respect freedom of speech.

"The administration would like to see the ability of the people of Iran to voice what they'd like to see from their government," he told a news briefing at the White House.

US: Iran Scared of the Will of Its People

AFP | Feb 11

"We know that what they really are scared of is exactly what might happen," Gibbs said as Egyptians celebrated their revolt, which came on the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran on February 11, 1979.

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had styled the Egyptian uprising as a revolt against a government allied with the West, and said Egyptians should be vigilant of the United States.

"The Iranian nation is your friend and it is your right to freely choose your path. The Iranian nation backs this right of yours," he said.

"We will soon see a new Middle East materializing without America and the Zionist regime and there will be no room for world arrogance (the West) in it," he said, also slamming Israel.

Iran Jams BBC's Persian TV Service

Guardian | Feb 11

The BBC's Persian TV service is being jammed from within Iran due to its coverage of the unrest in Egypt.

It appears that the trigger point was a joint broadcast on Wednesday by the corporation's Persian and Arabic services in which Iranian and Egyptian callers exchanged views.

Many Iranian viewers said during the interactive programme that they were watching events unfold in Cairo extremely closely.

BBC Says Iran Jamming Its Egypt Coverage

Reuters | Feb 11

The interference began on Thursday evening after the BBC's Iranian service showed extensive rolling news coverage from the demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak.

"It is believed that it is the impact of this coverage which has prompted the jamming," the BBC said in a statement. "Satellite technicians have traced that interference and have confirmed it is coming from Iran."

Malware Was Aimed at Five Sites in Iran, Report Says

New York Times | Feb 11

The Stuxnet software worm repeatedly sought to infect five industrial facilities in Iran over a 10-month period, a new report says, in what could be a clue into how it might have infected the Iranian uranium enrichment complex at Natanz.

The report, released Friday by Symantec, a computer security software firm, said there were three waves of attacks. Liam O Murchu, a security researcher at the firm, said his team was able to chart the path of the infection because of an unusual feature of the malware: Stuxnet recorded information on the location and type of each computer it infected.

Such information would allow the authors of Stuxnet to determine if they had successfully reached their intended target.By taking samples of Stuxnet they had collected from various computers, the researchers were able to build a model of the spread of the infection. They determined that 12,000 infections could be traced back to just five initial infection points.

French PM Calls for Stronger Sanctions on Iran

AFP | Feb 12

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon called in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for stronger sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear programme.

"In Istanbul, in January, Iran opposed our renewed proposal for serious dialogue over its nuclear programme," Fillon said aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle off the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

"To convince Iran to return to the negotiating table, we'll have to strengthen sanctions," he told military personnel on the French navy's flagship which is holding joint exercises with the Saudi military.

"Iran's possession of a bomb would destabilise the region where tensions are already extremely high. It is an unacceptable prospect for us and for the countries in the region," he said.

Blasts Rock Iran Gas Pipes

Upstream Online | Feb 11

Simultaneous explosions that rocked three Iranian gas pipelines earlier today were not caused by technical problems, a company official was quoted as saying by local media.

The blasts occurred at 5:50 a.m. local time in Salafchegan, near the holy Shi'ite city of Qom in Iran's central Qom province, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

Qom itself was shaken by the blasts and the red glow from explosions was seen in the south western sky above the city, according to a Mehr report quoted by Reuters.

"Technical problems were not the cause of the blasts in the pipelines," Majid Boujarzadeh, a spokesman for the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), was quoted as saying by Mehr, without giving further details on what had caused the multiple explosions.


When Despair Leaves Our Hearts

Ann De Craemer (Tehran Review) | Feb 11

I have stress for several reasons, the first one being that I cannot physically be in Iran on 25 Bahman. I have been denied a visa for Iran since I have critically covered the 2009 presidential elections, so I will have to watch the events behind my computer. This angers and frustrates me, just as it has frustrated me that over the past two years I could net set foot on Iranian soil. When last week I heard a Belgian reporter in Cairo saying that he was sad to have to leave because protesters considered him as their voice and eyes, I perfectly knew what he was talking about, because people in Iran had told me the same. I could be their voice up to June 20th but then had to leave the country. While hiding in a taxi that was taking me from Ferdousi Square to Imam Khomeini Airport, I dried my tears with my scarf -- the one and only time that this damn thing on my head had some usefulness. I cried because I could no longer be the voice and eyes of the brave Iranian people. I now feel the same stress, caused by the frustration of having to watch things from a distance.

Another reason why I have stress for 25 Bahman is probably the reason why many Iranians are nervous these days: what will happen? It has been quite a while since the people of Tehran have taken to the streets to show the regime that they are angry about the state their country is in -- because that is of course what 25 Bahman has come to be about. It might have started as a solidarity march, but it is by now much more seen as a new chance for loud protest against the regime. And indeed, what will happen? Will the regime react just as harshly as during the protests of 2009? Ayatollah Khamenei & Co are obviously very afraid since the protests in Egypt and Arab states have erupted. Khamenei himself addressing "his" people during the Friday prayer of February 4th was a mere sign of fear, just as there was a great deal of fear in Ahmadinejad's boastful announcement this week that Iran will launch "many home-built satellites in 2012" -- "news" that is only a way of trying to divert attention from the upcoming street rally. We all know that when the regime is afraid, they resort to scaring tactics and violence. On the other hand, the hardliners know that the international community is watching them more than ever, as Egypt and more and more countries in the Middle East are showing the world that they are sick of their dictators.

Not knowing what will happen is exactly what is causing a big part of my stress. Also, not knowing how the people of Tehran will react on 25 Bahman makes my throat become sore. How energetic is the Green Movement? I believe it is still very much alive in the hearts and minds of people, but it has not taken to the streets for a long time. A friend in Tehran told me how much he hoped that the people would stay on their squares for a couple of days, just like the protesters in Egypt. I could sense his stress and as jokes often discharge tension, I told him that surely they would stay for a long time because Persians always want to perform better than Arabs.

But now to be serious: the situation in Iran is of course different than in Egypt. The struggle of the people for freedom and their use of the powerful social media in doing so is the same, but the people of Iran have to fight an enemy which is much more evil than Mubarak. They have to fight Khamenei, who has a powerful stick to hit "his" people with: Allah.


'It Is Now Time for You to Forge Your Own Future'

Declaration by "Anonymous" Collective (Green Voice of Freedom) | Feb 12

O most respectable and honorable citizens of Iran -- the cradle of civilization,

You express yourself, and we're listening.

We have not forgotten.

Protest[er]s who were imprisoned, beaten, bloggers who have been censored, citizens who were executed for criticizing the regime, you are truly loyal citizens of your country.

A new dawn appears to you and your country will be free from the chains of oppression, tyranny, and torture. You can finally exhale and take a new breath of air that will fill you with strength, wisdom, and freedom.

Anonymous supports you and accompan[ies] you on this path of liberation of body and mind of all Iranian citizens.

You, we are Anonymous, and do not fear the repressive regimes.

They know us, but we can not stop.

They fear us, and remain helpless to what will be unleashed against them.

Many of them are afraid of you, that's why, for so long, they enslave you.

It is now time for you to forge your own future.

The Iranian government has deliberately confused "opposition" and "disloyalty."

Unjust repressions were perpetrated against those criticizing the actions of those in power, hoping to frighten the others. This government must be held responsible for crimes against you, its citizens.

People of Iran, you can not [be] den[ied] freedom of speech and the press.

Your right to freedom of assembly, demonstration and opposition.

To have access to uncensored information and unlimited access to the internet.

Your right to a life without fear or oppression.

We are Anonymous,

We are Legion,

We do not forget,

We do not forgive,

Expect us.

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