Protest in Zahedan in southeast Iran, January 20, 2023

See also Iran Protests — Authorities Torture Young Men Sentenced to Death


Award-winning film director Jafar Panahi has been freed on bail, two days after he began a hunger strike protesting against his 7-month detention.

“Mr Panahi was temporarily released from Evin Prison with the efforts of his family, respected lawyers, and representatives of the cinema,” said Iran’s House of Cinema.

Panahi — an award winner at festivals from Cannes to Vienna to the Berlinale — had written in a letter released by his wife (see below):

Like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against these inhumane behaviors with my dearest possession, that is, my life….

I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison.


Concern is growing for the life of political prisoner Farhad Meysami, who has been on hunger strike since October 7.

Meysami, a civil and women’s rights activist, has reportedly lost 53 kg (117 lbs) in Rajaee-Shahr Prison in Karaj, west of Tehran. BBC Persian has shown photos of the emaciated physician.

Meysami was imprisoned in July 2018 over his activism, including the demand for an end to compulsory hijab.

During the first 75 days of his hunger strike, Meysami took liquids, but he has been on a “dry” hunger strike since December 19.

He wrote in a letter published by BBC Persian:

At a time when the rulers have denied the people their rights to a healthy body, livelihood and dignity, leaving nothing but daily pain and suffering, I have begun my own small contribution, hoping to turn these poisonous times into an antidote with a collective effort.

I will still stand by my three demands: stopping the executions of protesters, releasing political-civil prisoners, and stopping forced-hijab harassments. I will continue my impossible mission in the hope that it may become possible later on with a collective effort.


The Friday Prayer Leader of Zahedan, the Sunni cleric Molavi Abdolhamid, has urged Iran’s Shia leadership to respect freedom of expression.

Don’t jail critics! Criticism is the cure for the country’s problems. The biggest problem is that the doors of criticism are closed. Writers and journalists should be free to report problems.

A government has no value if the people reject it. The role of a government is to serve the people.

He added, “Every human being should be respected. All human beings have dignity.”

Abdolhamid gave his sermon before the weekly rally in the city in southeast Iran, a center of the 20-week nationwide protests.

In a report published on Thursday, the rights group Haalvsh said at least 185 civilians have been arrested in Zahedan in southeast Iran in the past month.

Haalvsh says it has been verified the identity of 125 of the detainees.

On Monday, authorities arrested Molavi Abdulmajid, a senior advisor to Molavi Abdolhamid, transferring him the next day to a prison in Mashhad in northeast Iran.


Iranian outlets boast that Tehran’s trade with Turkey rose 15% in 2022, surpassing $6 billion.

Turkish exports to Iran rose 11% to reach $3.7 billion. Imports from Iran increased 19% to $3.35 billion.

The Iranian reports neglect to mention that in September 2019, Turkish and Iranian officials set a target of $30 billion in annual trade.


Eleven professors have been fired from their jobs at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad in northeast Iran.

The Union Council of Iranian Students said the professors were dismissed for “accompanying, supporting, and defending the rights of students” during the 20-week nationwide protests.

The Council said six of the academics were from the Faculty of Literature, three from the Faculty of Law and Political Science, and one each from the Faculties of Mathematics and Economics.


Film director Jafar Panahi has gone on hunger strike in protest over his detention in Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Panahi’s wife posted his letter explaining that he he will refrain from drinking, eating, or taking medicine.

Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against these inhumane behaviors with my dearest possession, that is, my life….

I will remain in this state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison.

Panahi was detained last July to serve a six-year sentence handed down in 2010, in the aftermath of mass protests over the disputed 2009 Presidential election.

The director won the Camera d’Or at Cannes in 1995, the Golden Leopard at Locarno, the Golden Lion at Venice in 2000, and the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlinale.


The Center for Human Rights in Iran writes about the children’s rights activists who are among more than 20,000 people arrested during the 20-week nationwide protests.

Mahya Vahedi, Samaneh Asghari, Mahsa Gholamalizadeh, Sarvenaz Ahmadi, Mona Jandaghi, Ameneh Zamani, Atefeh Chaharmahalian, Sepideh Sarlarvand, Saeid Shirzad, Jina Modarres Gorji, and Saba Abdollahi are among the imprisoned activists, most of whom are women.

Sarvenaz Ahmadi, who is also a labor rights activist and translator, was arrested on November 6, 2022 along with her husband, composer and journalist Kamyar Fakoor.

On January 4, a Revolutionary Court in Tehran sentenced Ahmadi to six years in prison and Fakoor to one year on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the state”.

Ahmadi said in an Instagram post, “It was worth it. It’s worth the feeling of belonging to a large, powerful group of people who are trying to take control of their own destiny….I can’t be any different and I still believe that honoring life is the essence of resistance.”

Mahya Vahedi is a board member of the Imam Ali Popular Student Relief Society, recently closed by Iranian authorities. She was involved in support for underprivileged children, mostly refugees from Afghanistan. She also established Iranian Houses, an organization dedicated to helping children and women in impoverished towns.

Vahedi was arrested at her office in Tehran on January 15. She was released on bail on February 1 and is currently awaiting trial.

Ameneh Zamani was arrested in a raid on the offices of the Society for Vulnerable Children on November 24 during a meeting of staff of several children’s rights organizations. She was detained when she refused to hand over her mobile phones and its password.

Zamani was taken to Evin Prison’s Ward 2A, under the control of the Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization.

Ameneh’s sister Masoumeh Zamani writes, “Ameneh was reborn every time she was in the classroom with noisy, colorful children. In this gray world, people like Ameneh don’t belong in prison.”

The activist was released on bail on December 19 and awaits trial for “assembly and collusion against national security”.


Iran’s currency has returned to an all-time low, pointing to the latest failure of the Central Bank to stop the decline.

The rial stands at 450,700:1 v. the US dollar on Thursday afternoon in Tehran.

The currency first touched 450,000:1 on January 22, with a fall of 30% since nationwide protests began on September 16.

The Central Bank then announced an intervention over official and free-market exchange rates, hoping to stem demand for the US dollar, and interest rates were raised.

The intervention led to a brief improvement of about 4% before the rial started sinking again earlier this week.

ORIGINAL ENTRY, FEB 2: Trying to quell nationwide protests, Iran’s regime is cracking down on the residents of Zahedan in the southeast of the country — but still cannot stop the weekly demonstrations after Friday Prayers.

On Monday authorities arrested a senior advisor to Molavi Abdolhamid, Iran’s leading Sunni cleric and the Friday Prayer leader in Zahedan.

Molavi Abdulmajid was transferred on Tuesday to a prison in Mashhad in northeast Iran. His relatives were told to follow up on his situation “with the Special Clerical Court”.

An Iranian official told State news agency IRNA said Abdulmajid is accused of “numerous communications with foreign people and media, and distorting public opinion”.

In an interview on January 19 with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Abdulmajid criticized the regime for “an atmosphere of insecurity” in Zahedan. He said protests will continue “until the issue of Bloody Friday” — the mass shooting of demonstrators by security forces at the end of September — “and the people of Zahedan who were killed and injured is resolved”.The detention is a warning to Molavi Abdolhamid, who has said Iranian officials — including the Supreme Leader — are responsible for the killings of worshippers and protesters. He has called for an immediate referendum, with international observers present, to “change policies based on the wishes of the people.”.

On September 30 — two weeks after the start of protests sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini in custody following her arrest by “morality police” — security forces killed about 90 people in Zahedan after Friday Prayers. There were more shootings, some of them fatal, and detentions in the following days.

Authorities put up 15 checkpoints around the city. Human rights activist Farzin Kadkhodaei said everyone entering or leaving the city is searched: “They’re looking at their phones, especially if they’re young.” Police have begun filming protesters, and plainsclothes officers make arrests. At least 29 have been slain in the Friday gatherings in Zahedan and other areas of Sistan and Baluchestan Province since October 28.

But the repression has not quelled the dissent, which was also sparked by a police commander’s sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. Last Friday, people gathered outside Makki Mosque for the 17th week in a row and chanted slogans against the Supreme Leader and Ayatollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic Republic.

Security forces fired live rounds and tear gas. Witnesses said a number of demonstrators were injured and several people were detained.

“We have no future, no hope,” says one protester. “Life has become so difficult, we think to ourselves even if we get killed here maybe there will be a better future for our children tomorrow.”

A shopkeeper in Zahedan summarizes the defiance, “Each Friday, their fear becomes less.”