Bärbel Kofler, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (4 June) in response to news of the impending imprisonment of renowned Iranian filmmaker and winner of the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival Golden Bear, Mohammad Rasoulof:
I am alarmed at the news that renowned Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof could very shortly be imprisoned. Mohammad Rasoulof is an artist who is well known and respected around the world. He was convicted because he had made a film about injustice and corruption. This conviction is another blow to freedom of the press and of opinion in Iran.
In ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran made a commitment to respect and protect the right to freedom of speech. I therefore appeal to Iran’s judicial authorities to overturn the decision against Mohammad Rasoulof and to let him continue his artistic endeavours freely and without hindrance.
Alongside Jafar Panahi and Rafi Pitts, Mohammad Rasoulof is one of Iran’s best‑known filmmakers. He has won a number of prestigious international awards. On several occasions in the past, he has been briefly detained, banned from working and had his passport confiscated to prevent him from travelling abroad in response to his critical films.
On 29 February 2020, he received the Golden Bear award at the Berlinale, or Berlin International Film Festival, for There Is No Evil, his film about the death penalty in Iran. He was unable to accept the award in person, however, as he has not been permitted to leave Iran since 2017.
Rasoulof was sentenced in 2019 to one year in prison and a two‑year filmmaking ban for A Man of Integrity, his film about injustice and corruption in Iran, which is critical of the regime. The charges against him included propaganda against the system. He had not been given a start date for his prison sentence, but that has now been set for 6 June 2020.