Iran: Musician and filmmaker imprisoned

7 June 2016

According to Freemuse sources, musician Mehdi Rajabian and his brother, filmmaker Hossein Rajabian, were imprisoned for their art on 5 June 2016. They have been convicted to three years imprisonment.

Please help us in getting the charges dropped against the two artists and freeing Mehdi and Hossein by taking action and sharing the video below and using the hashtag #ArtIsNotACrime on your social media profiles and with partners, colleagues and friends.

Watch and share the new video Mehdi helped produce in collaboration with Freemuse:
Imprisoned in Iran. Imprisoned for their art.

Repeatedly tortured
After an ordeal that began in October 2013 – where Mehdi, Hossein and another musician, Yousef Emadi, were detained for two months in solitary confinement at Iran’s infamous Evin Prison and Mehdi Rajabian was repeatedly tortured – and a long sentencing and appeals process that carried through 2015 and 2016, all three artists were summoned by Iranian authorities on 27 May 2016 to appear once again at Evin Prison to serve out their three-year sentences. While the Rajabian brothers were imprisoned on 5 June 2016, according to Amnesty International and a Freemuse source, Emadi remains free.

Call on the Iranian authorities
“Art is not a crime. Mehdi Rajabian and Hossein Rajabian are not criminals and should not be in prison for their art. Imprisoning them is a grave violation of their and every Iranian’s right to artistic freedom. We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately free the artists, drop their charges, and halt the crackdown on artists in Iran,” Ole Reitov, Freemuse Executive Director, said.

Mehdi, his brother Hossein, and Yousef were charged with “insulting the sacred” and “propaganda against the state” through the production and promotion of underground music.

mehdi rajabian and hossein rajabian

Photo of Mehdi Rajabian (right) and his brother Hossein Rajabian (left) on their way to Evin Prison published on 5 June 2016 (Facebook)

CORRECTION: This story has been updated as of 14 September 2017 to reflect that it remains unclear whether musician Yousef Emadi was imprisoned at the same time as the Rajabian brothers and whether he remains in prison.


» Amnesty International – 23 September 2016:
Help release artist brothers on hunger strike

» Iran Human Rights – 6 June 2016:
Rajabian brothers in prison

» The Guardian – 6 June 2016:
Three jailed in Iran for distributing underground music

» International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran – 2 June 2016:
Music distributors summoned to prison: Don’t forget us 

Related information

» – 30 May 2016:
Iran: Two musicians and a filmmaker summoned to prison

» – 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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