Saturday, March 6, 2010

Iran arrests critical film maker/ IDF recording license plates of Israeli anti-fence protesters


Iran arrests critical film maker

Police in Iran have arrested internationally acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi and his family.

Plainclothes police broke into Mr Panahi's family home and arrested him, his wife and daughter and 15 other guests, his son Panah told reporters.

The director, known for his social realism, has made several films critical of Iran's regime.

The Tehran prosecutor's office has confirmed the arrest to reporters but denied it was connected to politics.

"At about 10 on Monday evening several plainclothes agents broke into the house," Panah Panahi told an opposition website.

They arrested everyone who was there and searched the house taking away computers and other personal belongings, he said.

Crime allegations

But Tehran's prosecutor said the arrests were not connected to politics.

"The arrest of Jafar Panahi is not because he is an artist or for political reason," prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told the semi-official ISNA news agency.

"He is accused of some crimes and was arrested with another person following an order by a judge."

Last year a travel ban was imposed on Mr Panahi by the authorities after he appeared wearing green - the colour of opposition supporters - at the Montreal film festival.

He was also briefly arrested after attending a memorial to student Neda Agha Soltan, killed at an opposition rally last June.

Film awards

Mr Panahi is a past winner of the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion award.

His most recent film is Offside, which won the 2006 Berlin Film Festival's Silver Bear award.

It tells the story of a group of female football fans who try to sneak into Iran's World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain but are arrested.

In Iran, women are banned from attending men's sporting events.

At least 30 protesters have been killed in clashes since last year's disputed elections, although the opposition says more than 70 have died. Thousands have been detained and some 200 activists remain behind bars.

At least nine have been sentenced to death, and two have been executed already.

Some of those arrested include former ministers and the sister of Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/03/02 13:56:29 GMT



Last update - 09:04 02/03/2010


IDF recording license plates of Israeli anti-fence protesters


The Israel Defense Forces says it is using information on Israelis who demonstrate against the separation fence in a bid to deny them entry at nearby checkpoints. Israelis and others demonstrate every Friday at the villages of Bil'in and Na'alin.


A document was presented to a number of left-wing activists during the last three demonstrations. The activists were forbidden from crossing the Rantis checkpoint on their way to the two villages.


In the document entitled "Data of vehicles used by left-wing Israeli activists and anarchists to reach demonstrations in Na'alin and Bil'in," registration numbers of 11 vehicles are listed.


The activists assume that the details were sent to the IDF by police who were present at recent demonstrations.


At the top of the document is an internal army phone number. It also appears that the IDF is observing the routes the activists take to reach the villages.


Activists told Haaretz that they cannot identify all the vehicles in the document; this may be because the information was collected during a demonstration as far back as December against the siege of the Gaza Strip.


On Friday morning, five activists in a white Subaru sedan hoping to cross at the Rantis checkpoint were stopped by a member of the Border Police. He was holding an IDF document containing a list of vehicles banned from reaching the territories. The order was signed by an officer named Aviv Reshef.


The white Subaru belongs to Shai Pollack, an activist against the fence who was not in the vehicle at the time. The vehicle's registration number topped the list in the document.


Another vehicle whose number was also on the list was not prevented from entering the territories.


One of the passengers in the Subaru told Haaretz that "the soldier asked whether we belong to the anarcho-mobile."


The activist said he did not know how the army learned that this was the term used by his colleagues in the car.


"Perhaps they are listening in on our phone calls, looking into our e-mails, or they have a snitch," he told Haaretz. "We do not know and do not bother ourselves about these things. We are not an underground organization and our activities are open, but the army has recently been investing a great deal of intelligence effort in preventing us from demonstrating."


Commenting on his vehicle being listed on the document, Pollack said that "I was not surprised that the army is taking yet another step against us, but it's a small step compared to the oppression that is used against Palestinian activists."


A week earlier at the Rantis checkpoint, Shai Gorsky was prevented from passing through with his car, which was also on an IDF list. Gorsky said the list was sending a message to the new protesters and the youth that join in the demonstrations that "they will be made criminals before they even get to there."


During a demonstration three weeks ago, one of the activists noticed a man dressed in civilian clothes collecting information on vehicles at Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv, where activists meet for demonstrations. Activists say the police took down people's ID numbers.


Police told Hagai Matar from the newspaper Ha'ir that "this is routine police work for Tel Aviv District officers."


An hour later, the activists whose IDs were listed were prevented from crossing at the Rantis checkpoint.


Attorney Dan Yakir, the legal counselor for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, told Haaretz that "the problem begins with the flawed attitude of the IDF, which considers demonstrations in the West Bank unlawful. Hence these questionable legal measures. If there is no suspicion that a violation is expected, there is no cause to collect information or pass it on to the IDF."


© Copyright  2010 Haaretz. All rights reserved


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