Music Journalists locked up in Iran

You’ll have noticed that Iran is once again in the headlines today, with US-Iran tensions reportedly ‘raised’ again after the US sold anti-missile systems to its middle-eastern allies. It’s also the anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return from exile in 1979.

But it’s Iran’s domestic affairs that I’m interested in, and the continuing backlash against people involved in demonstrations against last year’s disputed election results. The first two convicted protesters were hanged last week and, worryingly, 16 more protesters are now in court, five of whom are charged with ‘waging war with god’, a crime that can carry the death penalty.

I hope we might take a small amount of encouragement from a Reuters report today from Iran’s top judge, saying that he will ‘follow the law’ and won’t succumb to ‘political pressure’ to execute more protesters. But things are hardly looking up on the human rights front.

Thousands of people have been arrested following the post-election ‘Green movement’ protests, many are still in detention, and many have been tortured. At least three people have died as a result of torture in the Kahrizak detention centre near Tehran.

It’s against this frightening backdrop that we’ve launched an appeal today for two music journalists who have been detained in Iran.

Behrang Tonekaboni and Kayvan Farzin were arrested at the offices of Farhang va Ahang, a monthly music journal, on 5 January. Behrang,28, is the editor of the magazine and Kayvan is the music critic. Behrang’s mother Lily Farhadpour, 47, a journalist and a member of Iranian NGO Mothers for Peace, was also arrested at her home on 20 January.

At the moment we don’t know where they’re being held, or indeed why. But there’s a strong chance that it’s linked to the post-election protests as so many journalists and human rights campaigners have been rounded up by the authorities in recent months. And Amnesty is deeply worried that they could, like so many others, be subjected to torture.

You can take action online by writing to the Iranian authorities, urging them to reveal why Behrang, Kayyan and Lily are being held and where they are. We’re asking that the three detainees are given access to lawyers and any medical assistance they need. And most importantly, if the only reason they’re being held is because they peacefully expressed their views, we’re urging that they are immediately and unconditionally released.

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