Three members of the Iran’s Writers Association (IWA) were sentenced to a total 18 years in jail, according to the group’s statement.

Three Prominent Iranian Writers (from left: Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan and Reza Khandan Mahabadi) Are Sentenced to a Total of 18 Years in Prison

Iran’s judiciary handed out the verdict for Reza Khandan Mahabadi, Baktash Abtin and Keyvan Bajan to their attorneys on Wednesday, May 15. Each of them received sentences of six years in jail.

Abtin, Khandan, and Bajan were charged with “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion with the intention of acting against national security”.

IWA, called Kanun-e-Nevisandegan-e Iran (کانون نویسندگان ایران) in Farsi, was founded in 1968 as a civil society union.

It is an independent group of authors, poets, editors and translators based in Iran. During 50 years of its existence, it has been one of the most important institutions of Iranian intellectuals.

As a left-leaning civil society union, it was vocal in its critique against Shah’s regime before 1979, and has continued to criticize the Islamic Republic regime since then.

Iran’s Writers Association condemned the verdicts.

“This is not the trial and conviction of three writers,…this is the conviction of all writers and everyone struggling for freedom of expression”, IWA said in a statement.

Human rights organizations and international groups had already raised concerns and questions about the trial.

Before their appeal, PEN International said earlier this month 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 dropall charges against them and to respect their right to freedom of expression,” said Rebecca Sharkey, Campaigns and Communications Director of PEN International.

PEN International claimed that the charges against all three writers are in violation of their right to freedom of expression, and they are calling upon the Iranian authorities to immediately release them.

IWA have always been under pressure in Iran since its formation in 1968. Iranian governments both before and after 1979 Revolution have prosecuted IWA’s members.

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