January 8, 2022
Jailed Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin has died in a hospital in Tehran, the Iranian Writers Association has reported.
Abtin’s death, which was announced on January 8, came after the 48-year-old was recently placed in a medically induced coma while attempting to recover from a severe case of COVID-19.
Abtin suffered from coronary heart disease, and after he contracted COVID-19 his family managed to transfer him from Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison to a capital hospital on December 14.
A prominent writer and free-speech advocate, Abtin was serving a six-year prison sentence related to his ties to the Iranian Writers Association, whose members are frequently pressured by the authorities, and due to his visitation of graves of victims of political assassinations.
He had been imprisoned along with two fellow Iranian Writers Association board members, Reza Khandan Mahabadi and Keyvan Bajan, since September 2020.
The open expression advocacy group PEN America in October jointly awarded the three writers the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award.
Abtin’s imprisonment amid the coronavirus pandemic was harshly criticized by rights watchdogs.
Reporters Without Borders in a January 8 tweet said that Abtin had been denied proper medical care and said it “blames the high regime’s authorities for his death.”