While serving a six-year sentence in prison for charges of ‘illegal assembly and collusion against national security’ and ‘spreading propaganda against the state’, Iranian poet and documentary filmmaker, Baktash Abtin has died from Covid-19 in hospital whilst still in detention.
The 47-year-old, who had been routinely deprived of necessary healthcare during his prison sentence, was placed into an induced coma during the first week of January, after prison officials had delayed transferring him to hospital for 10 days. This was the second Covid-19 infection that Abtin had endured, but ultimately this delay in treatment has cost him his life.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said, “Mr. Abtin is the latest victim of the regime’s criminal conduct that has put political prisoners in a dire situation. Despite repeated domestic and international calls, the regime refused to temporarily release prisoners during the pandemic and continued to disrupt the treatment of infected with the virus. It also prevented their transfer to hospital.”
Abtin is the second Iranian prisoner to die during their prison sentence since the start of 2022. Adel Kianpour, a prisoner at the Sheiban Prison in Ahvaz, died on January 1 following a week-long hunger strike, after suffering from the coronavirus.
Abtin made a statement before his death in a video clip, in which he said, “The situation of our society today is such that we have enough good poets, filmmakers, and artists. What we lack are some people to stand up and fight and get their rights and persevere. The virtue of struggle and steadfastness is the missing link in our country. In this way, I am willing to sacrifice my life today with certainty.”
Despite his funeral being scheduled for January 10, pressure from the Iranian regime’s security forces meant that the ceremony was brought forward a day. He was laid to rest in his birthplace of Shahr-e Rey in South Tehran.
The NCRI said, “Mr. Abtin is the latest victim of a series of murders, the so-called ‘Chain Murders’ by the mullahs. The crime that began in the 1990s and continues to this day has sparked a wave of social and international hatred against the clerical regime.”
During his funeral, mourners began chanting slogans such as, ‘Peace be upon Abtin, death to the oppressors’ and ‘Death to the murderous government’, as the ceremony became an anti-government protest.
Even in Evin prison, inmates who had, at some point, served their sentences alongside Abtin began chanting ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to the dictator’, whilst ignoring threats from the prison guards.
The NCRI said, “His death and the protests and the chants ‘Death to Khamenei’ and ‘Death to the murderous government’ at his funeral and by his fellow inmates as well as messages of solidarity and support show that the Iranian regime’s killings and chain of murders more than before has failed to silence the people of Iran who more than before have been willing to stand and fight.”