Iran: Musician and filmmaker returned to prison

On 7 April 2017, the Center for Human Rights in Iran reported that music producers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian returned to Evin Prison in Tehran on 4 April after their request for an extension of their seven-day temporary leave was denied by the judiciary.

“The only change in the new year was that we walked uphill with new shoes,” said a note on Mehdi Rajabian’s Instagram page on 6 April 2017 under a photo of the brothers outside the prison. “Incarceration resumes. Goodbye.”

The request for an extension of their furlough was primarily for Mehdi Rajabian’s need for medical treatment, an informed source told the Center for Human Rights in Iran.

“The medical examiner has confirmed that Mehdi is suffering from multiple sclerosis and we have sent the diagnosis to the court, which should rule that he’s not physically fit to be in prison or at least allow him to receive treatment in a hospital outside the prison,” added the source.

Furlough, temporary leave typically granted to prisoners in Iran for a variety of familial, holiday, and medical reasons, is routinely denied to political prisoners as a form of additional punishment.

The brothers and Yousef Emadi were managing partners of the now banned Barg Music, a popular digital music production and distribution service, when they were arrested by the Revolutionary Guard’s Intelligence Organization on 5 October 2013.

They were charged with allegedly distributing underground music without a permit, working with female singers (prohibited from singing solo in Iran), and collaborating with “anti-revolutionary” Iranian musicians in exile.

In a trial that lasted only 15 minutes, Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 21 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced the three to six years in prison each in May 2015 for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state.”

Their sentence was reduced to three years in prison each upon appeal. They began serving it in June 2016.

Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian went on hunger strike in October 2016 for several weeks to protest the authorities’ continued refusal to provide them proper medical treatment, and the decision to separate them in different wards in Evin Prison.

The source told CHRI that the brothers had asked the warden to put them back in the ward for political prisoners after they were harassed and beaten by inmates in wards for non-political prisoners, but they have received no response.

According to Article 8 of Iran’s State Prisons Organization’s regulations, “All convicts, upon being admitted to walled prisons or rehabilitation centers, will be separated based on the type and duration of their sentence, prior record, character, morals and behavior in accordance with decisions made by the Prisoners Classification Council.”

The article above was reprinted with kind permission of the Center for Human Rights in Iran. The original article published on 7 April 2017 can be found on their website:

Call for help

We must remind authorities in Iran that art is not a crime. Please help us in getting the charges dropped against these Iranian artists and demanding their release.

Here are a few things you can do:

• Share the stories of Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, and Keyvan Karimi on social media using #ArtIsNotACrime, #FreeRajabian, #FreeMehdi, #Free_Hossein_Rajabian, #Free_Karimi

• Reach out to fellow artists, decision makers, political representatives, family and friends to call for their release

• If you are an artist, take a moment on stage to remember that all artists are not free

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