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Culture Ministry's decision to disband Iran House of Cinema is illegal: Asgarpur


Source: Tehran Times, Tehran; photos by Mojtaba Heidari, Mehr News Agency

Managing director of Iranian House of Cinema (IHC) regards the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance's decision on disbanding the IHC as illegal. Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur made the statement in a press conference held in Tehran, only one day after the Culture Ministry ordered the Iranian House of Cinema to disband.

Iranian House of Cinema (IHC) Managing Director Mohammad-Mehdi Asgarpur (L) and IHC board of directors chairman Frahad Tohidi attend a press conference in Tehran on January 4, 2012.

The ministry has accused the IHC officials of establishing the guild without legal formalities and "other illegal acts" in the letter.

Asgarpur began by saying that the IHC, which is the Iranian cineastes' guild, has been registered as a non-governmental institute. "The idea of establishing a governmental guild is a failed project in advance," he said

He also expressed his complaint to the Majlis for its lack of supervision over the government's activities in supporting the guilds.

The IHC charter was approved in 1987, where it bears that a general assembly needs to be held with the participation of the cineastes. "In those years we had only 15 members but today, we can hold an assembly with over 5000 members,so this rather seems like an animation."

"We are also pursuing several cases here such as the establishment of an unemployment insurance fund, which seems to be the source of the problems," he added.

The IHC was criticized last September for issuing a statement over the arrest of six Iranian documentary filmmakers, who have been accused of "collaboration with the BBC Persian service" in Iran.

However, he continued, "We are ready to appear in court and we are hopeful. As I said, we're following several cases which are being called collaborating with BBC Persian service," he added.

Referring to the letter submitted by the Culture Ministry to the organization emphasizing that the IHC has to stop all its activities before the deadline of January 5, he said, "I believe this letter has no legal weight since disbanding a non-governmental organization with a verdict issued by the executive power is impossible, however we are still waiting for the court date, which is on January 11," he added.

"If I, as a managing director of the Iranian House of Cinema, initiate the idea of disbanding a guild, it seems funny because the guild itself has board of directors who can make decisions on their own," he said.

The chairman of IHC board of directors, Farhad Tohidi, also present at the conference, said that the members of the board of the directors are ready to resign, "but we still say that the IHC charter is legal since it has been approved by its general assembly."

All art and cultural institutions must obtain a license for their activities before establishment. Afterwards, the institutions' charter must be approved by the Iran Public Culture Council (IPCC).

Last week, the IPCC ruled that the IHC was illegal after the Culture Ministry informed the council about some unannounced amendments to the IHC charter.

The Culture Ministry had also filed a lawsuit against the IHC, accusing it of making some amendments to its charter without informing the IPCC.

Iran's House of Cinema

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