Iran: Film to Show Horrors of Evin Prison
Mehrnoushe Solouki’s film, ‘The Evil and the Good’ documents her detention and life inside one of
Below is an article written by Toumaj Tahbaz and published by Radio Free Europe/Radio
Since January 18 , Solouki has been back in
A doctoral film student at
It was February 19, 2007.
"I was leaving the office of my colleague when five plainclothes agents, who seemed to be armed, stopped me," Solouki says. "From that moment on, my life totally changed."
Solouki went on to spend a month at Evin in solitary confinement, before her release on a bail of 85,000 euros ($124,000) posted by her parents in France, at the risk of losing their own house.
But authorities had confiscated the 39-year-old filmmaker's passport. Unable to leave, she waited months for her trial in November  on charges that included making antigovernment propaganda and endangering national security. At the trial, she was fined around $2,000 for her activities.
The French Foreign Ministry has not provided any details about her case. But a website set up by supporters (freesolouki.org) claims she was acquitted last week and allowed to leave
In July , an unknown assailant in
"I heard the cries and yelling of other women prisoners," she says. "I thought that they were terrorists, but when I asked about it, the answer was that they were women activists arrested during the ceremony of March 8 [International Women's Day]. I couldn't tell whether this answer was tragic or comic."
But tragic seems to best describe Evin, which includes a much-feared wing that is thought to be run by
"I have heard some things about
Solouki has always denied the charges against her, saying that her documentary had not yet been filmed at the time of her arrest and that none of the equipment seized from her gave any indication of the film's content.
She was granted a research license by the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance to film a documentary on the burial traditions of religious-minority communities such as Armenian Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians. She says the authorities had prior knowledge of her planned activities, such as the locations where she wanted to film, including a particular cemetery on the outskirts of
Not just any cemetery, however. Solouki, in doing her research, was suddenly captivated by an area at the
How many people were buried there has never been established. However, estimates generally point to more than 2,800 killed, with their bodies buried in different areas around the country, not just at
"When I came across that reality, I couldn't turn off my camera," she says. "This is apparently part of
Solouki says the academic "even warned me that anyone who researched that part of Iran's past -- not history -- would be persecuted, because it is likely that bringing up this case, the Khavaran case -- would take Iran and those in power who were involved to international courts."
During her ordeal, Solouki says she often felt her life to be endangered, and even briefly sought refuge at the French Embassy in
Unlike Zahra Kazemi, a 54-year-old Iranian-Canadian photographer who was beaten to death at Ervin prison in 2003, Solouki has survived. Now, she plans to make a film about her story, to tell the world about what she endured inside Evin prison -- and what scores of dissidents continue to suffer there daily.