Tuesday, September 20, 2011
6 Film-makers Arrested in Iran
Iranian authorities have arrested a group of film-makers on suspicion of being members of a network which “supplies information, produces films and clandestine reports for the BBC Persian programme, aimed at portraying a bleak picture of Iran”. BBC Persian broadcasts live news, documentaries and entertainment programmes to Farsi speakers (mostly in Iran and Afghanistan), though the channel has suffered deliberate attempts to interfere with its signal since its launch in 2009. The BBC has confirmed that the arrested individuals are independent documentary filmmakers, not BBC employees; the BBC had bought the rights to broadcast their documentaries (which is itself a common practice), but had not commissioned them specifically. The arrests came a day after the channel broadcast a documentary on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Ramezan Sharif, a Revolutionary Guard spokesman, claimed that the BBC tried to “identify elements inside the country [who produce] cultural productions in order to use them against the Islamic establishment.” Liliane Landor, on behalf of BBC global news, described the arrests as part of the “ongoing efforts by the Iranian government to put pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage of its Persian-language TV of events in Iran and the wider region.”
The irony of the events is that the Iranian authorities themselves are the ones who are “portraying a bleak picture of Iran” by arresting these film-makers.