Musician Mehdi Rajabian, after being on hunger strike for 30 days demanding he and his brother receive much needed medical attention, was given a four-day medical furlough on 27 November 2016, according to an Instagram post the musician posted on 28 November 2016. His filmmaker brother Hossein, who also needs medical assistance, remains in prison.
Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director, said:
We are happy to learn that Mehdi is finally getting the medical care he has needed ever since he was imprisoned in June 2016, and are saddened that Hossein has not been able to get the same treatment. However, the case remains that neither of the artist brothers should have ever been imprisoned in the first place. The Rajabian brothers remain imprisoned for their art in a country that continues to harness it citizens from artistic expression.
Eighty-five United Nations member states voted on 15 November 2016 calling upon Iranian authorities to take real steps in correcting its human rights record.
The recommendations specifically included calling for fair and just legal treatment for all its citizens, accompanied by proportionate punishments to offences if persons are prosecuted, as well as the creation of an “enabling environment” for all members of its civil society, including artists, to freely express themselves.
Mehdi and Hossein began their second hunger strike on 28 October 2016 in protest of their treatment after their first hunger strike, which lasted nine days in September 2016.
According to the brothers, in a letter they wrote from prison obtained by Freemuse in October, the brothers were “tricked” into stopping their first strike when medical help was promised. They were also promised to be re-united in the same ward after they were split up for repeatedly asking for medical help for Mehdi.
The medical help never came. Mehdi and Hossein remain separated.
After that first strike, Mehdi’s condition grew worse and Hossein also developed medical problems that needed attention.
In their letter, the brothers asked artists all over the world to not forget them: “Stand by our side and [don’t] forget us, because being forgotten is a human’s greatest pain.”
Mehdi and Hossein are solely imprisoned for their art. Help make sure they are not forgotten.
Here are a few things you can do:
- Share their story and letter on social media using #ArtIsNotACrime
- 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 not all artists are free
- Share this video Mehdi Rajabian helped create after his sentence before he was jailed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56PpdbR0jtM
» Instagram – 28 November 2016:
Mehdi Rajabian post
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