In a letter addressed to Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati, a group of Iranian musicians, music principals, and supporters have asked him to end the suppression of musicians and music professionals and to ensure that artists are not imprisoned for producing artistic works. The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, in collaboration with Iranian artists, created an online petition on December 13 pushing for the release of music publishers arrested in the latest crackdown and demanding an end to the mistreatment of artists and musicians in Iran.
In the three days since the letter has been available online, more than 400 supporters have signed it, including several prominent artists. Musicians Farzam Rahimi (Mira), Shahin Najafi, Majid Kazemi, Abjiz Band (Melody and Safoura Safavi), Indo Band, Shahrzad Sepanlou, Pouya Mahmoudi, Babak Maddah, Houman Ajdari, Rana Farhan, Mahsa Ghasemi, prominent painter Niki Nojoumi, artist Shoja Azari, and several journalists are among the signatories. Supporters can join these Iranian artists in their plea to Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance by signing the online petition.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
During the last three months, the independent Iranian music community has observed unusual security-oriented treatment of musicians and music professionals. The recent arrests are a further indication of this treatment. Earlier this year, there was a lot of hope that changes in the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance and your appointment to the position of Minister and the subsequent appointments of your team would provide an opening in the Iranian music scene and see an end to the licensing process to create and perform cultural and artistic works. We also hoped to see women, who comprise half of the Iranian society, be able to actively return to the Iranian music scene. Unfortunately, not only do we not observe any changes in the baseless previous practices, we note that music principals are ending up in prisons and in detention centers.
Instead of receiving encouragement and support, young Iranians who were spending their time and energy to promote and develop Iranian music, a duty naturally bestowed upon you and your colleagues inside the Music Unit of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, have been put in detention for more than two months. Your responsibility, and that of your colleagues, is to support lovers of arts and culture and it is truly shameful to see that individuals are ending up in prison as a result of creating artistic works. We, the undersigned, demand an immediate end to the current security-based and anti-cultural treatment of artists. We ask you to take immediate action for the release of the recent detainees and to act to end gender discrimination in the Iranian music domain and to eliminate the license application process. We ask you to immediately release the BargMusic website managers and to make amends for their mistreatment. After all, they are not embezzlers, nor have they committed any crimes—their only sin seems to have been to love music.