Washington: Paul Haggis is leading a campaign to demand freedom for Iranian film director, Jafar Panahi who has been accused of “colluding with the intention to commit crimes against the country’s national security and propaganda against the Islamic Republic.”
The Academy Award-winning screenwriter is heading a group of Hollywood actors protesting for the rights of the 50-year-old filmmaker, who has been banned from making any films, writing screenplays or giving any form of press interviews.
Haggis, who is campaigning on behalf of Amnesty International, believes that Panahi and his artistic collaborator, Mohammad Rasoulof are victims of unjust silencing by the government.
“I just had to put myself in their place and say ‘boy, I wish someone would speak out if I was in prison for speaking my mind and banned from making films,” Fox News quoted Haggis as saying.
“I think it is our responsibility to speak out, especially for one of our colleagues. (As celebrities) we are just like any other citizens but we have a big voice, and we should use that voice,” he added.
The ‘Million Dollar Baby’ and ‘Crash’ screenwriter received a stack of 21,000 petition signatures, including those from Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Sean Penn and Harvey Keitel.
He has delivered these to an officer of the Iran Mission to the United Nations, demanding that the “harsh sentences” be lifted.