Music Freedom Day: Musician sentenced to imprisonment sells instrument to pay fine

3 March 2016

mehdi rajabian with sehtar

The freedom to express oneself through art is a human right to be rejoiced. Today is Music Freedom Day, a day to celebrate musicians, their songs and the fans and audiences who enjoy their craft and performances.

But also on this day, we bring attention to the many musicians who are not able to practice this human right of artistic freedom, and to the repressive societies, governments, policies and religions that do not allow their people to freely express themselves and enjoy the beautiful songs they produce.

Mehdi Rajabian is one such unfortunate musician. He, along with two other artists – his brother Hossein and Yousef Emadi – have just this week been sentenced to three years in prison in Iran for their art and their business to produce, promote and spread music across Iran.

Mehdi’s chosen instrument for his musical expression is the Sehtar, a stringed instrument that has enabled him, and so many other musicians before him, to tell the stories and express the feelings and ideas important to all members of a vibrant society. But soon that freedom will be taken away from him and his fellow artists.

So on Music Freedom Day, while still free on bail before being taken into custody, Mehdi has made yet another difficult decision:

I have put my own instrument (Sehtar) for sale to be able to pay the penalty that is part of the sentence that Iranian authorities have issued for me. My instrument is all I have. So, I put this instrument, which has made me cry and laugh, on sale. It isn’t just an instrument. It is a broken sword that belongs to a defeated soldier of the battle of Chaldiran which I call: “The History of Iran as Told by Sehtar”. Yes, we would cry too, when we are tired of everything.

Freemuse has campaigned for the charges against Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi to be dropped and now calls for the reversal of the final judgment by the Tehran Appeals Court.

Photo of Mehdi Rajabian sitting with his Sehtar courtesy of the artist

» Find Mehdi Rajabian’s Instagram post here:

mehdi rajabian instagram

» To find out more about the case on Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian and Yousef Emadi go to the Freemuse website here: Freemuse Executive Committee

For more information on this case follow these links:

» – 29 February 2016:
Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker sentenced

» – 27 January 2016:
Iran: 165 Iranian artists and activists protest charges against two musicians and a filmmaker

» – 15 January 2016:
Call on Iranian authorities to drop charges on two musicians and a filmmaker

» – 14 December 2015:
Iran: Music distributors await appeal decision for six years in prison

» – 17 December 2013:
Iran: Musician and music distributors arrested

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