Award-winning Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasulof was released from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison on February 12 after seven months of incarceration.

Rasulof, who won the top prize at the Berlin film festival for his 2020 film There Is No Evil, was arrested in July for criticizing the government’s crackdown on protests in the southwestern city of Abadan following a deadly building collapse.

Rasulof had signed a statement along with other Iranian artists and activists addressing the authorities called “Lay Down Your Arms.” His imprisonment was tied to a one-year prison sentence he had received previously.

A picture posted on social media showed Rasulov standing next to two civil activists following his release.

Two months after Rasulof’s arrest, mass protests broke out across Iran after the death in police custody in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who had been detained by the country’s morality police for an alleged violation of the mandatory hijab requirement.

Rasulof won the Berlin festival’s Golden Bear for There Is No Evil in February 2020 but was unable to accept the prize in person because he was barred from leaving Iran.

Amid the continuing mass protests in Iran, many prominent Iranian athletes, celebrities, rights defenders, and cultural figures have been arrested and imprisoned owing to their support for the demonstrations.

More than 500 people have been killed in a brutal police crackdown, according to rights groups. Human rights groups estimate that around 20,000 people have been arrested in connection with the protests so far.

In a defiant message on the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution on February 11, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said nationwide anti-government protests had been defeated.

Raisi said in a speech on Tehran’s Azadi Square that the demonstrations were part of an effort by Iran’s enemies to prevent Iran from continuing its achievements.

Source » rferl