Press release

Iran: Free unjustly detained women film-makers

staff image

Amir Bayani

14 Jul 2011



Tehran 14.07.11: ARTICLE 19 is very concerned that Mahnaz Mohammadi and Pegah Ahangarani, two prominent women film-makers renowned for their work on women’s rights in Iran, have been arrested and detained in the last few weeks.

“ARTICLE 19 calls on the Iranian government to immediately release Mohammadi and Ahangarani, and other artists and activists unjustly detained.  The authorities must clarify the reasons for their arrests and ensure that the women have access to legal representation,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 Executive Director.

Mahnaz Mohammadi, a renowned filmmaker whose work includes a banned documentary on women’s rights in Iran, was arrested by anonymous security officials at her home in Tehran on June 26 2011. She is detained in Evin prison, where many activists and artists are currently held.  Mohammadi’s lawyer told UK newspaper the Guardian that she has been denied access to her family and to legal representation, and that she has a critical health condition which requires medical attention. Mohammadi was also arrested in August 2009 at Tehran’s main cemetery for protesting against the unlawful killing of Neda Agha Soltan, the activist whose death during the post-election protests was caught on video and disseminated widely on the internet.

Actress and film-maker Pegah Ahangarani was arrested as she tried to leave the country to travel to Germany for the Women’s World Cup. The exact date and time of her arrest are unclear but the BBC Persian language service reports that the news of her arrest surfaced on the 13th of July. Ahangarani produced a documentary called ‘Deh Namaki Ha’ in which she criticises the propaganda style of film-making of the Iranian militia, widely known as the Basij. 

Mohammadi and Ahangarani are among a group of women artists and activists currently in detention. Other prominent figures include photographer Maryam Majd, journalist Zahra Yazdani, women’s rights advocate Maryam Bahrman and activist Mansoureh Behkish.