Amnesty International has joined forces with the Iranian band Kiosk to highlight the crackdown on Iranian artists, including musicians and filmmakers (Image: © Amnesty International/Kiosk)
Amnesty International has joined forces with the Iranian rock band Kiosk to launch a campaign to free artists jailed in Iran. They are calling on other artists and the wider international community to condemn the actions of the Iranian government by voicing their support for the #FreeArtists campaign.

According to the human rights charity, there are currently four artists imprisoned for their work, including the brothers Mehdi Rajabian and Hossein Rajabian (a musician and a film-maker respectively), who are currently on hunger strike in Tehrans Evin prison.

They were convicted to three years in prison in 2015 after a trial before a Revolutionary Court on charges that included insulting Islamic sanctities and propaganda against the state through the production and promotion of underground music.

In a letter obtained last week by Freemuse, an organisation that advocates freedom of expression for musicians and composers, the brothers called for renewed public support. We urge all artists from around the world to show their protest and criticism against all of this [being denied legal rights and medical attention], in a peaceful way, worthy of an artist, they wrote from prison. Stand by our side and [don't] forget us, because being forgotten is a humans greatest pain.

A third artist, the film-maker Keywan Karimi, has also been sentenced to six years in prison for insulting Islamic sanctities in his artistic work. He is at imminent risk of imprisonment, according to Amnesty International. Golrokh Iraee, a poet and creative writer, is due to begin serving six years in prison for writing about the horrific practice of stoning.

There are scores of other artists, including musicians, poets and filmmakers, who have been targeted for harassment and intimidation and threatened with detention, says a spokeswoman for the charity.

Philip Luther, Amnesty Internationals research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, describes the imprisonment of the Rajabian brothers as yet another nail in the coffin for freedom of expression in Iran. He adds: The human right to liberty is sadly so undervalued by the Iranian authorities that they are prepared to condemn individuals to years in jail just to silence artistic voices that they deem as anti-Islamic and anti-revolutionary.