On, January 9, 2022, news coming from Iran’s notorious Evin Prison expressed the solidarity of political prisoners with the Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin who died in hospital due to the regime’s obstruction and deliberate delays in letting him have access to medical support.
The political prisoners of Evin Prison gathered in front of Hall 8 and the prison yard, chanting ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to the oppressor’.
The atmosphere in the prison was tense and the regime’s prison officials feared the expansion of the protests to other wards. The political prisoners called for the regime’s officials’ prosecution, because of their crime. They emphasized that they continue their fight for justice so that even the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei faces justice.
On Saturday, January 9, 2022, Baktash Abtin, an Iranian writer and filmmaker and a member of the Writers’ Association, died in hospital.
Baktash Abtin, 53, a poet and filmmaker, had been serving a 6-year sentence in Evin Prison since September 26, 2020. The imprisoned writer was diagnosed with coronavirus twice and on December 6, 2021, he was transferred to the prison’s medical center and then to Taleghani Hospital, due to his critical situation.
In a reaction to the regime’s crime, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in a tweet wrote: “#Iran: RSF learned with sadness the death of #Baktash_Abtine. The writer and #journalist had been unjustly sentenced to 6 years in prison and was in detention in hospital, ill with #Covid19 & deprived of the necessary care. RSF blames the high regime’s authorities for his death.”
Baktash Abtin in a video clip previously released about Iran’s situation said: “The situation of our contemporary society is such that we have enough good poets, filmmakers, and artists today. What we lack are some people to stand up and fight and get their rights and persevere. The virtue of struggle and endurance is this contemporary missing link of my country. In this way, I would like to sacrifice my sweet life today in my youth with certainty.”
He started his carrier as a poet and writer in the late 1980s. After several arrests and convictions, Baktash Abtin was finally sentenced to six years in prison on September 26, 2020, for activities against the Iranian regime and membership in the Writers’ Association of Iran.
In December 2020, more than 1,300 Iranian poets and writers signed a statement protesting the sentencing of Baktash Abtin and two other writers (Keyvan Baghen and Reza Khandan) to prison.
At the same time, another letter was signed by the American Pen Association (Pen America), signed by several world-renowned writers and artists, demanding the release of the three.
In its latest statement Pen America on January 8, 2022, about the death of him wrote: “Our worst fears materialized today, as we mourn the utterly preventable death of Baktash Abtin,” said PEN America’s Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Nossel. “COVID is a natural killer, but Abtin’s death was aided and abetted by the Iranian government every step of the way. Tehran’s Evin prison was a perpetual super-spreader event, making his unjust imprisonment since September of last year an effective death sentence. Abtin was denied medical treatment, his comorbidities were ignored and at times he was shackled to his bed.”
His funeral was scheduled for Monday, January 10, but the Writers’ Association abruptly announced that, under pressure from security forces, the ceremony would take place at 3 pm on Sunday, January 9, at the Abdullah Imamzadeh in Shahr-e Rey. At his funeral Slogans such as ‘Peace be upon Abtin, death to the oppressors’ and ‘Death to the murderous government’ were chanted.