Jailed Iranian Literary Figure, Baktash Abtin, Dies of Inadequate Access to Healthcare While in Custody

by Pedram Samiêi — 10January 2022

Baktash Abtin, a political prisoner, poet, filmmaker and member of the Iranian Writers’ Association, who had been serving a six-year prison sentence, died on Saturday 8th of January of complications related to a covid-19 infection he had contracted while in custody.

Baktash Abtin

This was the second time that he had contracted Covid-19 in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where prisoners have been saying for over a year that they do not have proper access to healthcare or personal protectives for COVID-19 prevention His lawyer says judicial and prison authorities in Iran deprived Abtin of sufficient access to medical care and transferred him to the hospital too late. 70 Percent of Abtin’s lungs had been damaged with covid-19 related lesions when he was transferred to the hospital.

The Iranian Writers’ Association has repeatedly criticized prison officials for delaying Mr. Abtin’s transfer to the hospital. “The anti-libertarian regime assassinated Baktash Abtin”, the association said in a statement. In recent days, there have been reports of Mr. Abtin’s deteriorating condition. An earlier statement from the Writers’ Association emphasized that he was put in an artificial coma.

Reporters Without Borders tweeted that Abtin, as a political prisoner had been deprived of his right to access to medical treatment and that the organization blamed the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran for his death.

“The worst we could have ever known came true today, and we mourn the completely preventable death of Baktash Abtin” wrote Susan Nussell, director of the American Pen Association (PEN), in a statement. “Covid is a natural deadly agent, but the Iranian government has helped Abtin’s death step by step and paved the way”.

Baktash Abtin was one of the winners of the Institute’s Freedom of Writing Award, and Ms. Nussel described him in her statement as the true flag bearer of freedom of expression.

Baktash Abtin was born in 1974 in Shahr-e-Rey and has made several documentaries in his artistic career, including “October 13, 1937”, a documentary about Loris Cheknavarian, a well-known Iranian conductor and composer; “Homayoun Khoram”, a documentary about this famous Iranian composer and “Ansour”, part of which is about the life of Alisha Shah Molavi, the late poet, a member of the Writers’ Association of Iran. Baktash Abtin has also published several collections of poetry since the mid-1970s.

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