PARIS: Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has been jailed for the last six months, said he has begun a hunger strike to protest his continued detention, according to a statement published by Tahereh Saeidi, his wife Thursday.
Tahereh Saeidi announced the news about the hunger strike on her Instagram page.
Panahi, a former Golden Bear winner whose social-issue films have drawn retribution from the Islamic Republic, recounted joining other Iranian filmmakers on July 20 last year to protest the arrest of two colleagues, only to find himself in Evin prison after being resentenced by a judge, The Hollywood Reporter recalled.
Panahi won a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 2000 for his film "The Circle". In 2015, he won the Golden Bear at Berlin for "Taxi Tehran", and in 2018, he won the best screenplay prize at Cannes for "Three Faces."
He started his dry hunger strike, refusing food and water, from Wednesday, he said in the statement.
"Today, like many people trapped in Iran, I have no choice but to protest against this inhumane behaviour with my dearest possession -- my life," said Panahi.
Panahi said he is protesting against the illegal and inhumane behaviour of the judicial and security apparatus and the hostage-taking.
"I have started a hunger strike since the morning of the 12th of Bahman, and I will refuse to eat and drink any food and medicine until the time of my release. I will remain in this
state until perhaps my lifeless body is freed from prison," the ace director said in the statement.
"With love for Iran and the people of my land," Jafar Panahi signed off.
There were expectations last month that the judiciary could order his release, but he remains behind bars in Tehran's Evin prison.
According to AFP, Panahi, 62, was arrested on July 11 and had been due to serve a six-year sentence handed down in 2010 after his conviction for "propaganda against the system".
But on October 15, the Supreme Court quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial, raising hopes among his legal team he could be released.
Panahi's July arrest came after he attended a court hearing for fellow film director Mohammad Rasoulof, who had been detained a few days earlier.
Rasoulof was released from prison on January 7 after being granted a two-week furlough for health reasons and is still believed to be outside of jail.
Cinema figures have been among the thousands of people arrested by Iran in its crackdown on the protests sparked by the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, 22, who had been arrested for allegedly violating its strict dress code for women.
Star actor Taraneh Alidoosti, who had published images of herself without wearing the Islamic headscarf, was among those detained although she was released in early January after being held for almost three weeks.
(With inputs from AFP)