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Three Iranian artists; Mahdi Rajabian, Yousef Emadi, and Hossein Rajabian were summoned by Iranian authorities to turn themselves in and serve their time in prison. The group, consisting of two musicians and one filmmaker were charged with insulting Islamic sanctities, illicit financial gain through audiovisual activities, and propaganda against the regime. International organizations such as Iran Human Rights, Amnesty Norway, and well as the U.N. Special Rapporteur for Human RIghts have come out in support of the artists and called for their release. The artists were originally arrested in October 2013, where authorities kept them in solitary confinement for two months before releasing them. At the time of the arrest, Mehdi Rajabian, a musician as well as a producer and distributor, had been working on a concept album of Iran’s history through music. Mehdi’s album History of Iran Narrated by Setar combined histories spoken by the artist with traditional Persian instrumentation and ambient noise. Hossein Rajabian, a filmmaker and Mehdi’s brother, has directed a number of short documentary films which have been screened at international festivals. Hossein’s first full-length film The Upside-Down Triangle had just been completed at the time of the arrest. Iranian authorities confiscated all hard drives and materials related to both Mehdi’s album and Hossein’s film. In protest, Hossein released The Upside-Down Triangle online with English subtitles. Yousef Emadi, along with the Rajabian brothers, founded the underground music distributor BargMusic in 2009. BargMusic applied on multiple occasions to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for a permit to operate. All organizations wishing to perform, produce, or distribute music for any commercial purpose in Iran are required to have such a license, which the Islamic Republic’s government censors then use to keep control over what art is allowed to be heard by the public. As its requests for permits were repeatedly denied, BargMusic continued to operate openly in an underground manner up to its founders’ arrests in 2013. In May 2015 when the original court sentence came down it was determined each artist must pay; a fine of 200 million toman ($66,650) and serve a six year prison sentence. This decision was appealed and the resulting decision, which came out in February 2016 reduces the fine to 20 million toman ($6,000) and jail time to three years. Mehdi Rajabian, Hossein Rajabian, and Yousef Emadi are currently imprisoned in Evin Prison, Tehran’s high-security facility for political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience. They are scheduled to remain there until June 2019. Sources:

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