Amnesty International expresses concern at Iranian film director’s visa rejection

18 April 2016, 14:35 UTC | New Zealand
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As proud sponsors of the documentary ‘Sonita’ at this year's Documentary Edge Film Festival, Amnesty International is concerned to hear the news that the film’s Iranian director, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, has been denied a visa to visit New Zealand during the festival next month.

This award winning documentary addresses the issue of forced marriage in Iran through the journey of young Afghan refugee, turned rapper, Sonita who narrowly escaped forced marriage at 16 by writing the song ‘Brides for sale’.

Human rights activist Ghaemmaghami was due to speak at screenings of the documentary and also to feature as a guest masterclass speaker at international industry event the Screen Edge Forum giving New Zealand audiences the opportunity to explore these important issues.

“Film directors are often the target of crackdowns by governments in their own countries, but it is deeply concerning to see our own country rejecting this visa application”. 

Margaret Taylor, Activism Manager at Amnesty International

“Film directors are often the target of crackdowns by governments in their own countries, but it is deeply concerning to see our own country rejecting this visa application”, said Margaret Taylor, Activism Manager at Amnesty International.

“Rokhsareh plans to visit several other countries such as Australia, Turkey and the US on her worldwide tour to promotes this documentary, so it’s surprising that New Zealand has rejected her application on the grounds that she may be a flight risk”.

Amnesty International would like to hear more from Immigration New Zealand on how they came to this decision and the organisation would welcome a reassessment of this case.

‘Sonita’ will screen at The Roxy in Miramar, Wellington on 13 and 15 May and at Q Theatre in Auckland on 19 and 29 May.

The festival has set up a pettion calling for Immigration NZ to reverse their decision on Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s visa, you can add your name here.

For more information about the festival visit the website.

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