An article in Amnesty International’s publication on November 8 reports that they are working with renowned Iranian music band Kiosk to call on other artists, as well as members of the public, around the world to join the #FreeArtists campaign, in demanding the immediate and unconditional release of jailed artists in Iran.
The article focuses on three prisoners of conscience.
Two of them are brothers. Musician, Mehdi Rajabian, and filmmaker, Hossein Rajabian, who are on hunger strike in Tehran’s Evin Prison.
After a trial before a Revolutionary Court on charges that included “insulting Islamic sanctities” and “illegal audio-visual activities”, they were convicted in 2015, and are serving three-year prison terms. They began their second hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment on October 28, 2016.
The third artist, Keywan Karimi, although not yet imprisoned, is charged with “insulting Islamic sanctities” related to his artistic work, and has been sentenced to six years in prison, is at imminent risk.
Says Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, “Expressing yourself through art is not a crime and it is outrageous that the Iranian authorities have resorted to locking up artists and musicians simply for their artistic work. Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian are prisoners of conscience who shouldn’t be forced to spend a single minute behind bars. The Iranian authorities must order their immediate and unconditional release.” He adds, “Their imprisonment is yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Iran. The human right to liberty is sadly so undervalued by the Iranian authorities that they are prepared to condemn individuals to years in jail just to silence artistic voices that they deem as ‘anti-Islamic’ and ‘anti-revolutionary’.”
Going on a hunger strike has put the brothers’ health at risk, but it is their last resort to demand freedom. They say they will refuse intravenous drips, until they are released from prison. Mehdi Rajabian has begun to cough up blood, and says that he was punched in the stomach by a prison doctor after being taken to the prison clinic. Amnesty International has demanded that the Iranian authorities provide access to a qualified health professional for both brothers.
For more information about Amnesty International’s #FreeArtists campaign see:
- Amnesty International campaign to free jailed artists
- Jailed Iranian artist brothers on hunger strike
- Iran: Free Artists! Amnesty International and KIOSK unite voices blog and video