Author and Humorist Kiyumars Marzban Detained

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On August 26, 2018, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Intelligence forces arrested author and satirist Kiyumars Marzban in his home, confiscating several personal items including his mobile phone and laptop.

Last year, Marzban, 26, came back to Iran after eight years abroad to visit his ailing grandmother. While he entered the country without event, Branch 1 of the Evin Prosecutor’s Interrogation office opened up a case file and arranged for his arrest within his first year back home.

While Marzban alleges he never traveled to the U.S., a state-affiliated news site has accused him of “Networking in Iran” on contract with American partners. The same news site accuses Marzban, who also teaches art, of entering Iran with the intent to sensationalize and divide the community with his classes. As of the date of this report, no further information was available about the reasons for Marzban’s arrest.

Human Rights Watch revealed in a press release that he has not been allowed to visit his family yet.

Kiyumars Marzban began his career with filmmaking in 2005. By 2009 he had produced eight short films and left Iran to develop his portfolio in Malaysia. Shortly afterward, via Facebook, he launched the world’s premier Persian-language comedy podcast, called “Radio Sangetab” (Sangtab, the name of a village in northern Iran, is also a cooking method using hot stones). His works include “Kham Bodam Pokhte Shodam Balke Pasandideh Shodam” (I was raw, I became ripe and rather pleasant) and “Aziz Jan” (Dear darling).

Appeals Court Fines Poet and Filmmaker in Connection with 2016 Instagram Post

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Bektash Abtin, a poet, filmmaker, and former board member of the Iranian Writers Guild, was fined $1,200 USD (5 million IRR) on a charge of “propaganda against the regime” for a photo he posted on Instagram in 2016.

The above order is an appeal of his June sentencing, in Branch 2 of the Revolutionary Court of Karaj, to three months of forced labor in the State Welfare Office in addition to the 5 million IRR fine.

When police raided a memorial service at Imamzadeh Saleh shrine in Karaj in November 2016, Abtin snapped a photo of his comrade’s injuries and published it to Instagram. The service was intended to commemorate writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh, victims of serial murders in December 1998 that were suspected to be the work of Iranian government operatives.

Security forces stormed the memorial service, which quickly devolved into a violent clash. In attempts to protect 75-year-old civilian Fatemeh Sarhadizadeh from harm, Mazdak Zarafshan sustained severe injuries to his face. Abtin, Zarafshan, and a number of fellow attendees–including Mohammad Mehdipour, Naser Zarafshan, and Reza Akvaniyan–were subsequently taken into custody.

(subphoto text: image of Mazdak Zarafshan after he was beaten by the security forces. Baktash Abtin published this image on his Instagram account.)

After his release, Abtin published photographic evidence of Zarafshan’s injuries to his social media account, inciting Karaj prosecutors to accuse him of “propaganda against the regime” and open up a case file against him.

This is not the first entry on Abtin’s rap sheet. Pursuant to a lawsuit from fellow writer and Writer’s Guild board member Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Abtin was previously charged with “propaganda against the regime” and “publishing an illegal journal”. At the time of Mahabadi’s accusations against him, security forces stormed both of their homes and confiscated their personal property.

In 2015, Abtin was interrogated for three consecutive days by intelligence officers, who reportedly drilled him about his films, his membership in the Iranian Writers Guild, and his participation in the 2009 post-election protests.

Bektash Abtin, born in 1974, is a poet and documentary filmmaker who in 2014 was elected along with four other colleagues to the board of the Iranian Writers Guild. He previously served as secretary of the Guild for one term and as officer of the Guild’s Managing Committee for two terms. In the 2018 Guild elections, he was elected as one of the group’s financial auditors. A number of his documentaries have been screened at international festivals, including “13 October 1937,” a documentary about Iranian musician and orchestra conductor Loris Cheknavarian; “Ansor,” a documentary about censorship; and “Homayun Khorram,” a documentary about the famed Iranian musician of that name. He has also published a number of poetry books, including “When My Foot Was Clubbed It Wrote ‘Let’s Go Back,”; “My Lashes Have Stitched My Eyes Shut”; “Sledgehammer”; “A Lonely Birth Certificate”; and “The Ancestor of my Inner Ape.”

Appeals Court Upholds Convictions of Six Azerbaijani Activists

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Six Azerbaijani activists accused of national-security related crimes for protesting Azerbaijani cultural misrepresentation in 2015 had their appeal rejected.

On September 1, 2018, Judge Hossein Farshi Radvar of Branch 3 of the East Azerbaijan Province Appeals Court moved to uphold the original ruling, issued to a total of seven activists in October 2017 by Branch 1 of Ahar Revolutionary Court. Ahar is situated in northwest Iran, home to Iran’s Azerbaijani ethnic minority.

On a conviction of “Assembly and collusion against national security by propagandizing against the regime,” the activists all face prison time: ten months for both Akbar Aboulzadeh and Ebrahim Noori, and seven months apiece for Esrafil Fathollahzadeh, Hamed Allahverdipour, Morteza Shokri, and Soleiman Kazemi.

Though the appeals court had also summoned Saleh Molla Abbasi, his name did not figure in the final verdict. The initial ruling indicated he faces a 10-month prison sentence.

From the group of seven, the four who attended the initial court hearing were the same ones present at the appeals hearing: Aboulzadeh, Fathollahzadeh, Allahverdipour, and Shokri. Three others – Saleh Molla Abbasi, Kazemi, and Noori – did not attend the court session. Noori is currently serving a sentence for other charges in Evin Prison of Tehran.

The activists were arrested in November of 2015 for their involvement in public protests against the state-sponsored television series “Fitileh,” parts of which were believed to portray the Azerbaijani ethnic minority in a derogatory light. The “Fitileh” protests reportedly involved around 25 participants. All but these seven were eventually acquitted.

HRANA previously reported on the activists’ pending appeals hearing.

Ahwazi Arab Poet Abbas Torfi Detained in Mashhad

Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – On Thursday, August 30, 2018, an Arab poet and activist was detained in Mashhad after attending a private poetry reading. Security forces produced no warrants at the time of his arrest.

HRANA verified the identity of the detainee as Abbas Torfi.

Torfi is actively involved in Arab poetry, culture, and literature. The reasons for his arrest remain unknown. No information is currently available regarding his whereabouts or conditions post-arrest.

A Juvenile Offender Executed in Bushehr

HRANA News Agency – Ali Kazemi, a prisoner who had been sentenced to death at the age of 15 when he was charged with murder, was executed in Bushehr Prison, at noon on December 31. It is said that the prisoner was alive for an hour after the verdict was executed and he eventually died in the hospital.

According to the report of Human Rights Activists News Agency in Iran (HRANA), the death sentence of Ali Kazemi, juvenile offender, was carried out in Bushehr Prison, at noon on December 31. Continue reading “A Juvenile Offender Executed in Bushehr”

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Three historical sites were demolished in Yazd

HRANA News Agency – In spite of protests staged by the Friends of Heritage and Cultural Society, three historical sites have been demolished in Yazd. The city of Yazd is known to be an important historical city in the world, only second to Venice in Italy. Yazd is also one of the largest cities build almost entirely out of adobe.

Continue reading “Three historical sites were demolished in Yazd”

Mohammad Bagher Moradi is sentenced to 5 years of prison

HRANA News Agency – Mohammad Bagher Moradi, a member of Saraye Ahle Ghalam has been sentenced to 5 years of prison.


According to a report by the committee of human rights reporters, after being summoned by a telephone call to the branch 26 of the revolutionary court of Tehran, Judge Pir Abbasi has sentenced Mohammad Bagher Moradi to 5 years of prison on charge of colluding and gathering to act against the national security. Continue reading “Mohammad Bagher Moradi is sentenced to 5 years of prison”

Turkman Music Group Concert Cancelled


HRANA News Agency – Turkman Music Group’s concert scheduled to be held on May 27, 2011 in Talar Andisheh Theater has been cancelled for unknown reasons.


Turkman Music Group is led by the master musician and composer Navid Mosamer originally from the city of Maragheh [in East Azerbaijan Province].  The music played by this band is a compilation of melodies whose origins can be traced to northern Khorasan, southern Azerbaijan and eastern Anatolia.  Additionally, Turkman Music Group performs songs of two Iranian ethnic minorities, Qashqai and Qarapapaq.


Turkman Music Group was formed in 2006 and in recent years, has performed a wide range of diverse poems written by poets such as Mohammad Fazoli, Hakim Abulqasam Nabati, Ostad Shahriar and Younis Amare.  This music band also utilizes a large number of old poems passed down orally as songs from one generation to another in Turkish regions.