By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Iran's Writers Association says security officials have prevented the group from holding its monthly advisory meeting.
Censorship (cartoon by Mohammad Tahani, Tehran's Arman daily)
In a recently issued statement, the group says the meeting was due to be held on January 14 at the home of one of the members. But according to the statement, a few days before the scheduled meeting, the individual was summoned by the Intelligence Ministry and "forced" to cancel the gathering.
The statement comes two weeks after Iran's President Hassan Rohani pledged to ease restrictions on artists.
Rohani said art shouldn't be viewed as a security threat.
"Art without freedom is nonsense and creativity is developed in the light of freedom," he was quoted as saying in the January 8 meeting with a group of artists, writers, and poets. At least one prominent member of the Writers Association, leading author Mahmud Dolatabadi, was reportedly present at the meeting.
"Can one speak of freedom of art while the activities of the Writers Association -- which has fought for freedom of expression for half a century and believes freedom is necessary for literature and creative art -- be banned?" asks Iran's Writers Association in its statement.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Farda, the group's secretary, Nasser Zarafshan, blamed Rohani for the pressure against the Writers Association.
"The Intelligence Ministry is part of the [government]. Ministers work directly under the supervision of the president. It would be [a mess] if Rohani wouldn't have control and supervision over his own ministries," Zarafshan said in a telephone interview from Tehran.
In recent years, a number of the members of Iran's Writers Association have been summoned by the authorities, threatened, put on trial and sent to jail. The group says Iranian authorities have not only tried to shut down the association and neutralize it, but they have also attempted to create similar groups.
In 1998, two members of the Writers Association became victims of the so-called chain murders of intellectuals and dissidents by "rogue agents " of Iran's Intelligence Ministry.
Copyright (c) 2014 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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