Prominent Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti is celebrating her release from prison after Iranian authorities arrested and detained her on December 17 for supporting the ongoing protests in the country.
Alidoosti, who is perhaps best known for her role in the Oscar-winning film The Salesman (directed by Asghar Farhadi, who also directed the Oscar-winning A Separation), was sent to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran after she posted a photo to her social media where she wasn’t wearing a hijab in solidarity with the “Woman. Life. Freedom” protests happening in the country.
Before she was arrested, Alidoosti urged her fans and followers on social media to take action against the torture and death sentences handed down to protestors, writing, “Every international organisation who is watching this bloodshed and not taking action is a disgrace to humanity.”
She then posed for a picture on her now-disabled IG account with her hair uncovered, holding a sign saying "Woman, life, freedom" - the main slogan of the protest movement. The Iranian Regime arrested her for “posting inflammatory content.”
Upon her release, Alidoosti was seen smiling, talking on the phone, and carrying a bouquet of flowers while still refraining from wearing a hijab. She posed with other women, many of whom also refrained from wearing a hijab.
Hijab is a headscarf that is compulsory for all women in Iran, and that is the basis of the ongoing protests in Tehran and other parts of the country. The protests began in September when 22-year-old student Mahsa Amini was arrested by the so-called “morality police” for improperly wearing her hijab. She died in police custody, with many saying that she was beaten to death.
Since then, widespread protests, skirmishes, and clashes with police have taken place on the streets of Tehran and other cities, with women leading the way, refusing to wear hijab in direct defiance of the country’s strict conservative dress code laws. 516 protesters have been killed, including 70 children, according to the BBC.
Many powerful voices in Iran, like actress Nazanin Boniadi, and director Asghar Farhadi, called for Alidoosti’s release. The Guardian reports that over 600 international film stars objected to Alidoosti’s detention, demanding her release.
Alidoosti was released on bail, which was set at a reported 1 billion Iranian rial, equal to $32,446.47 Canadian dollars.
More than 10,000 other protestors are currently languishing in Iranian prisons, many of whom are sentenced to death for the crime of “moharebeh” or “waging war against God.” Some protestors have already been executed after secret, sham trials that were over within minutes, and the convicted were rushed to their execution without space for an appeal or a proper defence. These types of executions are a violation of international law that limits capital punishment to only the most serious, violent crimes, with no space for “non-lethal offenses” such as protesting.
In October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new sanctions against the Iranian regime, which included freezing assets and property of those the Canadian government deems as terrorists, such as the members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The government has deemed the country’s actions to amount to “gross human rights violations.”
The Prime Minister has also reiterated his government’s commitment to supporting the women of Iran as they continue to fight for their basic human rights.