Reza Khandan Mahabadi Returned to Evin Prison after Furlough

On Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, prisoner of conscience, writer and member of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) returned to prison after a furlough. On December 21, 2021, following the worsening of his Covid-19 symptoms, Khandan was hospitalized and after four days, he was granted a medical furlough.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, Reza Khandan Mahabadi went back to Evin prison at the end of his furlough.

On December 21, Reza Khandan Mahabadi was dispatched from Evin Prison to a hospital outside the prison after his COVID-19 symptoms became worse. On December 25, 2021, through the formal request of his lawyer and family, he was granted a medical furlough.

Earlier, he and another IWA’s member, Baktash Abtin, tested positive for Covid-19. On January 8, Baktash Abtin died at the hospital due to his worsening conditions and the prison’s medical negligence.

Mahabadi was sentenced on May 15, 2019, by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Mohammad Moghayeseh. His sentence included one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and five years on the charge of “assembly and collusion with the intention of acting against national security”. On September 26, 2020, he was arrested and sent to Evin Prison to serve his sentence.

Mahabadi’s career as a writer kicked off in 1978 with the publication of his book “Local Children”. Some of his publications include “Nothing Comes Out of the Sack, ExceptWhat Was In It”, a seven-volume story collection called “My Favorite Stories”, a collection of research titled “Razi War”, and the 19-volume fiction collection “Encyclopedia of Iranian Legends and Fairy Tales” (co-author Ali Ashraf Darvishian).

Reza Khandan Mahabadi Contracts COVID-19, Is Dispatched to Hospital

On December 21, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, a prisoner of conscience, writer and member of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) was dispatched from Evin Prison to a hospital outside the prison after his COVID-19 symptoms worsened. Earlier, he and another prisoner of conscience, Baktash Abtin, tested positive. This has raised alarms about the spread of the virus amongst prisoners in Evin Prison.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, Mahabadi was hospitalized due to a high fever and other severe symptoms. Abtin was hospitalized earlier in Tehran due to poor health and COVID-19 symptoms.

Mahabadi  was sentenced on May 15, 2019 by Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court, headed by Judge Mohmmad Mohammad Moghayeseh. His sentence included one year in prison on the charge of “propaganda against the regime” and five years on the charge of “assembly and collusion with the intention of acting against national security”. On September 26, 2020, he was arrested and sent to Evin Prison to serve his sentence.

Mahabadi’s career as a writer kicked off in 1978 with the publication of his book “Local Children”. Some of his works include “Nothing Comes Out of the Sack, But What Was In It”, a seven-volume story collection called “My Favorite Stories”, a collection of research titled “Razi War”, and the 19-volume tale collection “Encyclopedia of Iranian Legends and Fairy Tales” (co-author Ali Ashraf Darvishian).

Sydney Pen Association Demands Immediate Release of Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bazhan from Evin Prison

On Sunday, June 20, the Sydney Pen Association in Australia issued a statement in light of Ebrahim Ra’isi’s election as next President of the Islamic Republic.

According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, quoting the Writers’ Association of Iran, the statement calls for the immediate release of Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bazhan, currently being held in Evin prison for their writings critical of the State. All three authors are members of the Writers’ Association of Iran, and each has published several books on Iranian history, sociology, and literature.

“The three authors need medical attention and authorities have not taken any of them to hospital,” the statement says.

In April, Baktash Abtin’s lawyer announced that his client had contracted COVID but had not received the necessary treatment. Reza Khandan Mahabadi suffers from osteoarthritis of the neck and Keyvan Bazhan has a thyroid disease. Penn Sydney was recently informed by inmates that another wave of coronavirus has spread to Evin Prison, further endangering the lives of its inmates.

The writers were first sentenced to imprisonment when now-president-elect Ebrahim Ra’isi was head of the judiciary on charges of propaganda against the Islamic Republic and acting against national security. They were also accused of attending the graves of disgruntled poets and writers and critics of the regime.

The prosecution cited the publication of a book on the history of the Writers’ Association of Iran, an institution that has criticized Iran’s past and present governments for decades, and the defendants were sentenced to a total of 18 years in prison by the Revolutionary Court of Tehran.

In January 2019, an appeals court in Tehran reduced the sentence to a total of 15 years and six months in prison. Baktash Abtin and Reza Khandan Mahabadi were sentenced to six years in prison each, and Keyvan Bazhan was sentenced to three years and six months.

Abtin, Khandan Mahabadi and Bazhan were arrested on October 26 of last year, after attending the Judgment Enforcement Unit of the Evin Court, and  were transferred to the infamous Evin Prison to serve out their sentences.

The statement cites a joint text by Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bajan, which was issued from inside the prison on June 6, 2021.

Below is an excerpt from their text:

 

We are addressing all writers and libertarians who have made “freedom of expression everywhere and for all” the focus of their human endeavors. This is the demand that the historical-global movement for freedom of expression has practically and always pursued. The Writers’ Association of Iran, of which we are three members, has been active as part of this movement for more than half a century; A movement that must be enhanced by its power and volume; Because apart from the daily threat of freedom of expression by the ruling powers, many people in the world are completely deprived of it; Including writers and people of Iran. We are currently in prison, and according to the sentence, we have to endure a total of 13 and a half years in prison because we are writers who oppose censorship and demand freedom of expression without exception. We are not the first prisoners and oppressed of this movement and we will not be the last until “freedom of expression everywhere and for everyone” is achieved.

 

Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bazhan

 

Bektash Abtin concluded in his story to Sydney Pen Association president Mark Isaac,  “Freedom is never given to anyone on a gold tray; it comes at a high price. In a country like Iran, death very easily finds intellectuals, libertarians and those who fight for freedom of expression. We are not worried about the trial and the prison and its difficulties, because we have made our decision.”

Three Board Members of the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) were Sentenced to 18 Years in Prison

Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Keyvan Bajan were charged with “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security.” They were sentenced to 18 years in prison, combined.

The trial of the three writers was held earlier at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. They were arrested on January 22, 2019 after being subpoenaed on the “encouraging immorality or prostitution” and security-related charges. They were released from Evin prison a few days after on bail.

The trial led by Judge Moghiseh at the Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Baktash Abtin, Reza Khandan Mahabadi, and Keyvan Bajan were sentenced to one-year imprisonment for “propaganda against the state” and to five years imprisonment for “assembly and collusion against national security”. Their attorneys, Naser Zarafshan and Razieh Zeidi were informed of the verdict. In an announcement, the Iranian Writers Association (IWA) has condemned the verdict.

The IWA was an independent group of authors, poets, editors and translators based in Iran which was formed in May 1968 to fight against state censorship. Government have continuously persecuted its members after Islamic revoloution. In 1998, several IWA members, including opposition politicians, Dariush Forouhar and his wife Parvaneh Eskandari, and writers Mohammad Mokhtari and Mohammad Jafar Pouyandeh were murdered.

An investigation concluded that the murders had been carried out by authorities of the Intelligence Ministry. A number of ministry officials were arrested, and information about the murders was leaked to the media. During a judicial inquiry, the prosecution confirmed that the chain murders were part of a systematic policy to physically eliminate political and cultural dissidents of Iran.