Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti’s arrest gives a new boost to international support for the anti-regime protesters in Iran as street protests continue for the fourth month. Alidoosti, a famous Iranian actress, best known for her role in the academy award winning film The Salesman, was arrested at her home on 17 December, and is currently being detained in the infamous Evin Prison.
An open letter demanding Alidoosti’s release has been signed by renowned musicians, filmmakers and actors, including Iranian-American actor Sepideh Moafi, and Ken Loach, Mark Ruffalo, Mike Leigh, Steve McQueen, Ian McKellen, David Hare, and Juliet Stevenson.
Iran’s art world has also reacted to the arrest. If Alidoosti showing “rightful support” to fellow Iranians in the face of “unjust sentences being issued” is a crime, “then tens of millions of people of this land are criminals”, the Guardian cited Iranian director Ashgar Fahradi as saying.
Alidoosti is a vocal supporter of women’s rights in the country. Last month, she shared a photo on Instagram showing her without the Islamic hijab, and holding a piece of paper with “women, life, freedom” on it. A petition demanding the release of the actress on change.org has received almost 10,000 signatures as of the morning of 21 December.
Alidoosti is the latest in a string of celebrities to face the regime’s ire. Iranian footballer, Nasr Azadani, reportedly faces the death penalty for participating in the nationwide protests. Azadani’s former teammates have attested to the peaceful nature of the footballer’s political stance. An Iranian court ruling has found Azadani guilty of “waging war against God”, a finding that his teammates have described as “absurd” in an interview with Sky News.
According to a report by Amnesty International, 26 protesters who were arrested could face execution soon. Almost 19,000 protesters have been detained.
The sentences are unlawful, as confessions leading to convictions were taken under torture, one of the protesters’ attorneys said.
Att. Ali Sharifzadeh Ardakani’s client had “cried through his account of tortures, being beaten with tied hands and legs and blindfolded, to being kicked in the head and losing consciousness”, Iran International reported.
Iranians, speaking to NBC News, have described the feeling amongst the protesters in the country. “I must admit that I was afraid of being jailed before these executions, but now, I am thinking that I could tolerate it,” one Iranian said.
“Revolutions have consequences, and we need to pay the price for freedom,” another said, adding, “Unfortunately, that sometimes means losing lives.”