Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Iran hangs 11 Jundallah supporters and sentences filmmaker to 6 years

Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi won in 2006 the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for his film outside. On Monday he was convicted to six years in prison and also a ban to make films or travel abroad in the next 20 years. 

Iran has hanged 11 people with alleged connections to Jundallah, a Sunni Muslim opposition group that was responsible for a double suicide attack on a mosque on 15 December that killed 39 people. The Justice Ministry said on Monday that those executed were all supporters of Jundallah, which claimed a double suicide bombing of Shia worshippers in the southeast on December 15. "The people of Sistan-Baluchestan province, in their continuing campaign against the elements of cruelty and insecurity, hanged 11 people at Zahedan prison," the ministry said in a statement on the semi-official Fars news agency.
Iran has said that Jundollah members, who say they are fighting for the rights of the ethnic-minority Baluch people, find shelter across Iran's southeastern border with Pakistan. According to Iranian state television,president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  held a telephone conversation with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, urging Pakistan to arrest "identified terrorists" and hand them over to Iran. Iran hoped it had neutralised Jundollah when it executed its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, last June. Iran says that Jundallah has ties with Al-Qaeda, which the group denies.

Meanwhile, an Iranian court has sentenced Jaraf Panahi, an internaitonally renowned film director, to six years in prison on Saturday, according to Farideh Gheyrat, his lawyer.  The court has also ruled that Panahi cannot make films, nor travel abroad for 20 years. Gheyrat said that he was convicted of gathering, colluding and propaganda against the Iranian government.
"Mr Panahi has been sentenced to six years in jail for acting and propaganda against the system," Gheyrat was quoted as saying by the Isna news agency. "He has also been banned from making films, writing any kind of scripts, travelling abroad and talking to local and foreign media for 20 years."

Panahi, 49, supports Mirhossein Mousavi, Iran's opposition leader, in last year's disputed presidential election. He was arrested in Iran in early March and detained for 88 days, when he went on hunger strike due to his treatment. Panahi has 20 days to appeal against the verdict.

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