Baktash Abtin, Iranian imprisoned writer who died of Covid on Saturday, January 8.

Jailed Iranian Writer Dies OF COVID-19 After Delay In Treatment

Saturday, 01/08/2022

Imprisoned Iranian writer Baktash Abtin has died of Covid-19 complications after he was denied timely treatment by officials at Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Abtin succumbed to the virus on Saturday following days of medically induced coma as his health condition was deteriorating. His friends and colleagues charged that prison officials had delayed sending him to a hospital for ten days.

The Iranian Writers' Association said in their earlier statements that Abtin’s condition was the direct result of the authorities’ “deliberate delay” to start his treatment.

The poet and writer was sentenced to six years in prison in May 2019 for publishing documents about the history of the Writers’ Association and some comments against censorship.

Along with writers Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Kayvan Bajan, Abtin was charged with “propaganda against the state” and “assembly and collusion against national security”. These are vague charges used against political prisoners for criticism against the government.

Both courts and prosecutors in Iran are controlled by the hardline Judiciary which is accountable to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Judges and prosecutors work in tandem with orders they receive from the Judiciary.

In October 2021, PEN America bestowed its 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award to the three imprisoned writers. Just before Abtin’s death, PEN demanded his release.

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