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In Sympathy With Mourning Iranians Film Director Not Celebrating 80TH Birthday

Dariush Mehrjui (C) Iranian film director, screenwriter, producer, May2012. File photo

Dariush Mehrjui, a prominent Iranian film director says he is not celebrating his 80th birthday today as a sign of sympathy with fellow Iranians who are mourning the victims of the November protests.

"I'm sad and despondent because of the calamity that has befallen [our] people. They are in mourning; they are living in hard and unfitting conditions. In such circumstances celebrating birthdays is vain," he told the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) today.

In a statement published on social media platforms on November 30 Mehrjui and a number of other prominent Iranian filmmakers and musicians denounced the regime's suppression of the November protests and the killing of protesters.

Protests against rationing gasoline and the three-fold increase in its price which began on November 15 and spread throughout Iran lasted for a week. According to Amnesty International at least 208 protesters including 18 children were killed by the security forces, many others were wounded, and thousands were arrested.

The statement said they cannot forget "the faces of the youth whose pure blood wasimprudently shed". The statement also said by alleging that those who were killed in the protests were agents of foreign countries the regime is trying to justify killing them.

Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi is also among the signatories of the statement.

Mehrjui who is an award-winning director, screenwriter and producer has not submitted his latest film called La Minor in this year's Iranian Fajr Festival, presumably in protest to the limitations such as censorship imposed on artists.

Mehrjui is best known for his 1969 film "The Cow", an adaptation of a short story by Gholam-Hossein Sa'edi, one of Iran's renowned pre-Revolution literary figures who was highly critical of the Pahlavi government. The film was reportedly a favorite of Khomeini, the founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.