More than 900 writers, poets, essayists, and journalists in Iran have condemned the recent harsh verdicts against three of their fellows as an "unjustified," and "severe damage to the fundamental rights of all Iranians" that "kills freedom."
The statement published on Sunday, May 19 calls upon the Islamic Republic judiciary to immediately and unconditionally exonerate Baktash Abtin, Kayvan Bazhaan (Bajan) and Reza Khandan Mahabadi.
The three were sentenced to six years each by judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in the capital, Tehran.
Judge Moghiseh, known for his harsh tratment of human rights activists, lawyers, and members of religious minorities, has sentenced the three for "assembly and collusion against national security," and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic system”.
The 900 signatories to the statement have insisted that Abtin, Bazhan and Khandan Mahabadi have been merely convicted for enjoying their right to freedom of expression and expressing their opinion.
Earlier, PEN International had said that it is deeply concerned about the ongoing trial of the three Iranian writers.
"We stand in solidarity with our Iranian colleagues who are targeted due to their writing and peaceful activism. We call on the Iranian authorities to drop all charges against them and to respect their right to freedom of expression," said Rebecca Sharkey, Campaigns and Communications Director of PEN International.
Calling upon the Iranian authorities to immediately release them, PEN International also maintained that the charges against the three were in violation of their right to freedom of expression