On 3 July 2019, two members of the Iranian metal band Confess, Nikan “Siyanor” Khosravi and Arash “Chemical” Ilkhani, were sentenced to a joint 14.5 years and 74 lashes for playing heavy metal in the country according to Loudwire.
The General Judiciary of the Province of Tehran sentenced Khosravi to 12.5 years in prison and 74 lashes, and Ilkhani to a reduced sentenced of two years (from six). However, both artists are currently in Norway through asylum after fleeing Iran following the initial arrests by Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution in 2015.
Freemuse Programme Manager Delphine Pawlik states: “We condemn the sentences placed onto these two artists for enacting their human right to artistic expression. For the past four years, the musicians have lived in exile in fear of this kind of reprisal; no person, Nikan Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani included, should suffer these dire consequences for expressing themselves artistically.”
Loudwire obtained the official court documents which outlay the sentencing in full (including translation).
“Regarding the appeal of Mr. Arash Ilkhani and Mr. Nikan Khosravi, each of them have been convicted to 5 years in prison on charges of insulting the sanctity of Islam and one year in prison on charges of propaganda against the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran, according to the set of contents, news, and received documents displaying the continuation of the activities, the court of appeals has found the allegations well-founded and precise. In the received documents, the court has convicted Mr. Nikan Khosravi to two years of imprisonment for three counts of insulting the Supreme Leader and the president. He has been sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment and 74 lashes for allegedly disturbing public opinion through the production of music containing anti-regime lyrics and insulting content and for participating in interviews with the opposition media. The accusation of attempting to leave the country has also been confirmed by the court. In this regard, Mr. Khosravi has been convicted to 4 years of imprisonment. Regarding Mr. Arash Ilkhani, the appeals court, by reviewing the contents of the case and considering his role in the production of content in the music group named “Confess” and his inactivity in the group during the trial, suspended 4 years from his 6 years of imprisonment and confirmed 2 years of his conviction.”
This kind of sentencing contradicts basic human rights at an alarming level. Freemuse calls on the General Judiciary of the Province of Tehran to repeal this harsh sentencing and allow Khosravi and Ilkhani to return to Iran without fear of reprisal for expressing themselves artistically.