Author and Humorist Kiyumars Marzban Detained

Posted on: September 22nd, 2018

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

Posted on: September 20th, 2018

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.”