May 14, 2022
Internationally recognized Iranian documentary filmmaker Mina Keshavarz is being held in Tehran’s Evin prison on unknown charges, a reliable source with knowledge of the case has told RFE/RL in response to questions about Keshavarz’s whereabouts.
The information follows reports of security raids involving Keshavarz and another documentarist and the disappearance of another prominent Iranian, all in the past week.
Iranian authorities have not commented on the presumed arrests.
Previous reports said Keshavarz and fellow documentary filmmaker Firouzeh Khosravani were arrested on May 10 in Tehran after their homes were raided by security forces who confiscated personal belongings.
Those reports suggested Khosravani was also taken to Evin prison, where authorities routinely take political prisoners and a source of years of allegations of torture and other prisoner abuse.
On May 9, photographer Reihaneh Taravati was reportedly arrested in the Iranian capital, also on unclear charges.
Taravati had been arrested in the past, including in 2014 after appearing in an amateur video of her and other young Iranians dancing to Pharrell Williams’ hit song Happy.
Iranian authorities frequently detain people without providing the public, or often families, information about their detention or specifics of their suspected wrongdoing.
Heidi Basch-Harod, executive director of the nonprofit organization Women’s Voices Now, has worked with Keshavarz.
She told RFE/RL she was worried about Keshavarz’s well-being in Evin prison, where rights groups say prisoners are routinely subjected to coercion by their interrogators.
“I want no harm to come to Mina. She is an artist and filmmaker, a culture bearer who transports us to a place many of us will not have the chance to visit,” Basch-Harod said.
Keshavarz has directed films like Profession: Documentarist, about seven women filmmakers; Braving The Waves, about an Iranian woman who helps other women find jobs but runs up against a corrupt local politician; and The Art Of Living In Danger, about her own grandmother’s tragic life and suicide after being forced to marry at a young age.
“Mina has often expressed how frustrated she is by the inaccurate representation of women in Iran by mainstream media outlets and her work seeks to challenge those inaccurate representations,” Basch-Harod said, adding that she hopes Keshavarz will be released soon to continue to create films.
Keshavarz’s documentaries have been screened and awarded in several international film events, including the Women’s Voices Now Film Festival and the Sarajevo Film Festival.