Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court has issued their final judgment on Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, sentencing each of the three artists to three years in prison, three years probation and a 200 million rial (about USD 6,600) fine, reported the Human Rights Activists News Agency on 29 February 2016.
According to a source of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, the three artists were also “under intense pressure to make televised ‘confessions'”, and the presiding Judge Babaei described BargMusic, the alternative music production and distribution company the three ran, as an agent of “social corruption”. Babaei also accused the three of having contact with “political and anti-revolutionary” singers abroad.
Freemuse and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, along with 14 other human rights organisations, on 15 January 2016 protested the 2013 imprisonment and 2015 sentencing of musicians Mehdi Rajabian and Yousef Emadi, and filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, and called on the head of the judiciary and other Iranian authorities to drop the charges against them. Further, 170 Iranian musicians, filmmakers, writers and activists signed and released a statement objecting to the artists’ treatments and called for dropping the charges.
“Freemuse is deeply concerned about the continuous persecution of artists in Iran and calls for the immediate reversal of this unfair judgment in accordance with Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory,” Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director, said.
The three artists have yet to be imprisoned and are free on bail, but it is suspected they will be taken into custody in the coming weeks before Nowruz (Iranian peoples New Year), which occurs on 20 March 2016, according to Freemuse sources.
Mehdi Rajabian, a musician and founder of BargMusic, an alternative music distributor in Iran, along with his filmmaker brother Hossein Rajabian and musician Emadi, appeared at Branch 54 of the Tehran Province Appeals Court earlier on 22 December 2015 to appeal a May 2015 decision sentencing all three artists to six years in prison for “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” through the production and promotion of underground music, as well as a 200 million toman (about USD 66,650) fine.
“At the time of his arrest Mehdi Rajabian was recording the history of the setar [string instrument] in Iran. They confiscated all his work on hard drives when his personal music studio was shut down. Hossein Rajabian was also arrested when he had just finished his first film. They took away everything associated with the film, which was made with permission,” the International Campaign’s source said.
The three music distributors were arrested by Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organization in October 2013 and held in solitary confinement for more than two months in Evin Prison’s Ward 2-A, run by the Guards’ Intelligence Organization and put under intense pressure to make false televised confessions.
Updated as of 2 March 2016
» International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – 1 March 2016:
Iranian music distributors sentenced to three years in prison
» Human Rights Activists News Agency – 29 February 2016:
Appeals court issued a final judgment of imprisonment and a fine of three artists
» Freemuse.org – 27 January 2016:
Iran: 165 Iranian artists and activists protest charges against two musicians and a filmmaker
» Freemuse.org – 15 January 2016:
Call on Iranian authorities to drop charges on two musicians and a filmmaker
» Freemuse.org – 14 December 2015:
Iran: Music distributors await appeal decision for six years in prison
» Freemuse.org – 17 December 2013:
Iran: Musician and music distributors arrested