Iranian poet and filmmaker Baktash Abtin, who had been jailed on security charges, has passed away in a hospital in Tehran after contracting COVID-19 in detention. Abtin was a joint winner of the 2021 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. The 48-year-old was transferred to a hospital from the Evin Prison in mid-December and was placed in a medically induced coma a week before his death in an attempt to help him recover from a severe case of the coronavirus. Rights groups claimed authorities wasted time in offering him medical assistance when he first started showing symptoms of the disease more than a month ago.

The regime’s judiciary in Lorestan province announced on January 12th, 2022, that “the death sentences of two people had been carried out,” but the names of the victims, the time of execution and the place of their burial remained unknown. We now know the two executed dissidents were Jahanbakhsh Abbasi and Mehran Naqdi, whom the mullahs’ court sentenced to death last year after torturing them and forcing them to take part in television confessions. Both men were charged with “Moharebeh” (Waging war against God). Engulfed in crisis, and terrified of the spread of uprisings, the clerical regime has found the only way to remain in power in stepping up executions, torture, and repression.

On Tuesday, December 28, 2021, large groups of retired teachers in 18 provinces across the country gathered in protest against the unbearable living conditions, the oppressive policies of the clerical regime, and the deceptive “ranking” bill approved by the regime’s parliament. Acting on a previous call, retired teachers gathered outside the parliament in Tehran and other cities opposite the pension fund, including in Sanandaj, Mashhad and 18 other major cities.

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