Two of the band Confess, Nikan Siyanor Khosravi, 23, and Khosravi Arash Ilkhani, 21, are believed to have been arrested on November 10, before being held in Iran”s notorious Evin prison by the Revolutionary Guards.
The state”s Revolutionary Guard, officially called the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, is a branch of the its military that enforces its strict religious code.
The pair run their own record label and their latest album, released in October, included tracks named “Teh-Hell-Ran” and “I”m Your God Now”, both of which would likely rankle with the state”s hardline Islamic leadership.
Tara Sepehri Far, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the pair likely faced up to five years in prison for “insulting sacred beliefs”.
She said: “Iranian musicians, especially the ones who play non-classical western music, are navigating a minefield.
“Due to severe censorship, most of these groups are performing underground.
“Anything from the content of their lyrics to the style of the music they play might violate unwritten regulations that musicians are expected to adhere to by various authorities.”
Supporters and friends have begun using the #freeconfess hashtag and a petition has been started with over 11,500 signatures calling for the pair”s release.
People from all over the world have signed the Change.Org petition, calling the arrests “medieval” and “barbaric”.
A friend of the pair apparently told Trev McKendry, the chief executive of heavy metal website Metal Nation Radio, the men are working with their lawyers and waiting for their trial.
The full charges against the band reportedly include blasphemy, advertising against the system, forming and running an illegal band and record label, writing anti-religious, atheist, political and anarchistic lyrics and conducting interviews with “forbidden” foreign radio stations.
In November, more than 170 people were arrested by the Revolutionary Guard”s intelligence wing, including five journalists from Tehran, though it was not clear if the members of Confess were among them.
Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, described the arrests as “abductions, because the judiciary says they know nothing about at least 170 of them”.