Prominent Poet Charged With Spreading ‘Propaganda’ After Posting Photo of Beaten Colleague
Well-known Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin has been charged with “propaganda against the state” following his arrest on December 2, 2016 at a memorial event in Tehran marking the 18th anniversary of the “chain murders” of dissidents, including writers, in the 1990s by agents of the Islamic Republic.
An informed source told the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran that the charge was brought against Baktash by the Revolutionary Court in Karaj, west of Tehran, in connection with a photo he posted on his Instagram page showing Mazdak Zarafshan, a co-board member of the Iranian Writers Association, with a black eye caused by security forces who broke up the event.
Police and plain-clothed security agents attacked the demonstration and also arrested Nasser Zarafshan, the legal counsel for some of the victims’ families who had previously served five years in prison for his defense of human rights, his son Mazdak Zarafshan, and poet Mohammad Mehdipour.
“This is the third (open) case against Mr. Abtin,” the informed source told the Campaign. “He has one from 2015 in which he was charged with ‘propaganda against the state’ for printing an illegal publication and one from October 2016 for allegedly engaging in ‘illegal assembly’ and ‘assaulting the police.’”
Abtin, 43, was elected to the Board of Editors of the Iranian Writers Association in 2014. He has made several documentary films, such as October 13, 1937, a documentary about Iranian Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian, and Ensor, about censorship in Iran, both of which have been screened at international film festivals. He has also published several poetry books.
Intelligence Ministry agents repeatedly interrogated Abtin when he served as secretary of the Iranian Writers Association in 2014.