Underground musicians jailed in Iran

London, 9 Jun - Three Iranian creatives have started three-year jail terms this week. Yousef Emadi, 35, and brothers Mehdi and Hossein Rajabian, 26 and 31, were found guilty in 2015 of “insulting Islamic sanctities”, “spreading propaganda against the system” and “illegal audio-visual activities” in relation to distributing unlicensed music.

The three worked together in the north Iranian city of Sari on the music website Barg Music, now blocked, and Hossein Rajabian’s film The Upside Down Triangle which tackles the issues surrounding women’s right to divorce in the country. The men had previously been sentenced to six years but this was reduced to three years in jail, three years suspended conditional on “good behaviour”, each has to pay a fine of 200m rials, the equivalent of £4,500.

The trio, whom Amnesty have called “prisoners of conscience”, were summoned to serve their sentence last week after an appeals court upheld their sentence.

Amnesty also said the men had suffered beatings and electric shocks before being released on bail. During this time confessions were extracted that were later used as evidence in their sentencing. The torture has left Mehdi Rajabian with muscular dystrophy and requires monthly MRI scans and regular shots. Medical treatment for political prisoners in Iran is often denied, refused or delayed, as such there are serious concerns for Mehdi.

Iran’s clamp down on “un-Islamic” culture and behaviour is well documented, with 7,000 morality police taking to Tehran’s street in the last few weeks in addition to the many political prisoners from trade unions and the fields journalism, teaching and law. Multiple political prisoners are currently taking part in hunger strikes, including the editor of daily newspaper Farhikhtegan Ehsan Mazandarani and Kurdish-Iranian journalist Mohammad Sadiq Kabudvand.

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