We heard with great sadness about the death of Iranian author Baktash Abtin, who died for the crime of writing and demanding the right of free expression.
Abtin was a noted poet, filmmaker, and a leading member of the Iranian Writers Association, which the Iranian government has denounced as a national security risk and guilty of anti-government propaganda. PEN reported Abtin was found guilty of attending the memorials of well-known Iranian poets and writers, circulating IWA member newsletters, and compiling a book that chronicles the 50-year history of the IWA. In September 2020, along with two Iranian colleagues, he was sentenced to six years in prison.
While in prison, Abtin contracted COVID-19, which runs rampant in Tehran’s Evin facility, but was denied medical treatment until it was too late, at times was even chained to his bed. Placed into a medically induced coma on January 1, he succumbed to the virus a week later.
We join with our colleagues at PEN and other human rights organizations in calling for the release of 18 other Iranian writers and intellectuals currently being held as political prisoners and demanding that the Iranian government provide adequate medical treatment for those still in captivity.
We send our condolences to the family, friends, and readers of Baktash Abtin.