Iranian Artists Call for Immediate Release of Music Distributors
A coalition of Iranian artists have called for the immediate release of three music producers sentenced to six years in prison for promoting underground music in Iran.
“This kind of sentencing by the Judiciary is more believable in dealing with murderers, not artists,” said a statement signed by 165 members of the Iranian artistic community in support of Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi, and Hossein Rajabian.
“While we have been witnessing arrests and heavy punishments for several artists, and the banning of others, we now hear about the founders of BargMusic going on trial,” said the statement.
“The Iranian artistic community has been experiencing difficult days, more so than in the past,” it added.
The statement, made available to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, was signed by several prominent artists, including acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi, singers Mohsen Namjoo and Shahin Najafi, writer Shahrnush Parsipur, as well as human rights lawyer Mehrangiz Kar.
Members of the Iranian artistic community are routinely subjected to harsh censorship aimed at intimidating them into silence. Those who do engage in public expression deemed inappropriate by the state often face arrest and prosecution.
Free expression is a right guaranteed by international conventions, to which Iran is a party.
“As members of the music and cultural community, we are signing this statement to condemn the suppression of artists and call for the immediate and unconditional release of [imprisoned] artists,” said the statement.
Mehdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi, and Hossein Rajabian—administrators of BargMusic, one of the largest online producers and distributors of underground music in Iran—are currently awaiting an Appeals Court verdict on their sentences for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”
Last year saw an alarming number of artists harassed and punished with heavy prison sentences for creating and publishing work deemed threatening to the state or offensive to Islam.
Documentary filmmaker Keywan Karimi was sentenced to six years in prison in October 2015 and is currently awaiting a decision on his appeal.
Poet Mohamadreza Haj Rostambegloo is on bail and awaiting trial for “insulting the sacred” and “publishing falsehoods.”
Poet Yaghma Golrouee, also a poet, was released last December on bail after being arrested at his home and held for nine days.
Baktash Abtin and Reza Khandan Mahabadi, members of the Iranian Writers Association’s board of directors, have been interrogated by Intelligence Ministry officials several times.