The International Federation of Musicians (FIM) is deeply concerned about the imprisonment of Iranian artists Mehdi Rajabian (musician) and Hossein Rajabian (filmmaker), who were jointly sentenced to six years in prison and fined IRR 2 billion (about USD 66,650) each for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” through the production and promotion of underground music. Iranian musician Yousef Emadi was sentenced in the same case but remains at liberty.
The Rajabian brothers were imprisoned on 5 June 2016. They began their second hunger strike on 28 October 2016. They are now facing increasingly severe medical conditions as a result of their hunger strike.
Freemuse – the World Forum on Music and Censorship and a Special Consultative to the UN’s Economic and Social Council – reports that Iran continues to intimidate, persecute, imprison and ban artists, cultural producers and publishers. In 2015, Freemuse registered 32 violations of artistic freedom in Iran, including the prosecution of eight artists, the imprisonment of two and the detaining of four others.
FIM urges Iranian authorities to release, without further delay and unconditionally, all artists who are detained in Iran for having exercised their fundamental right to freedom of expression
Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic, Iranian musicians have needed government authorization in order to perform concerts and produce music albums and videos, whilst online distribution of Iranian alternative music has remained an acute political challenge. Governmental scrutiny is stringent and only certain genres of music receive licenses. Even when musicians are issued concert licenses, there is no guarantee that they can safely hold their scheduled appearances.
FIM supports full access to freedom of expression for Iranian musicians as well as for Iranian artists at large. FIM therefore urges Iranian authorities to drop all charges against Mehdi Rajabian and Hossein Rajabian and to release, without further delay and unconditionally, all artists who are detained in Iran for having exercised their fundamental right to freedom of expression, in accordance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party.