Toomaj Salehi: Family fears for life of rapper ‘violently arrested’ after encouraging Iranians to protest


“Anyone’s crime was once that her hair was once flowing within the wind. Anyone’s crime was once that she or he was once courageous and had been outspoken.”

Those lyrics may price Iranian rap artist Toomaj Salehi his existence. In some other nation he will have simply rapped concerning the daily issues dealing with his countrymen with out result.

However as a result of he lives in Iran, Salehi’s destiny is slightly other.

The 32-year-old underground dissident rapper was once violently arrested remaining Saturday along side two of his pals, his uncle mentioned, and now faces accusations of crimes which are punishable by way of demise, in keeping with Iranian state media.

As many as 14,000 other people in Iran were arrested together with newshounds, activists, legal professionals and educators all over protests that experience rocked the rustic since September, in keeping with a best United Countries legitimate.

The unrest was once sparked by way of the demise of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian girl who died on September 16 after being detained by way of “morality police” and brought to a “re-education heart,” allegedly for no longer dressed in her hijab correctly.

“I aroused from sleep at two o’clock within the morning with a telephone name from Toomaj’s good friend announcing ‘our whereabouts were leaked,’” Salehi’s uncle Eghbal Eghbali instructed CNN in an interview. “Since then we’ve been frightened about what has took place to Toomaj.”

Eghbali says he came upon via Salehi’s pals later that morning that about 50 other people raided his nephew’s place of abode in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, in southwestern Iran.

A group of protesters hold an Iranian flag and banners with the portrait of Toomaj Salehi in Paris on November 5, 2022.

The rapper is accused of “propagandistic task in opposition to the federal government, cooperation with antagonistic governments and forming unlawful teams with the goal of constructing lack of confidence within the nation,” state-run IRNA mentioned, quoting the Esfahan province judiciary.

Salehi’s uncle mentioned his nephew is recently detained in a jail within the town of Isfahan, and that he has data he was once tortured. Salehi is a resident of Shahin Shahr, about 20km north of Isfahan.

“We nonetheless have no idea the rest about Toomaj’s well being situation. The circle of relatives has attempted very arduous to even simply pay attention his voice, however no person has given us any details about Toomaj,” he mentioned. “We don’t even know if Toomaj and his pals are alive or no longer.”

Salehi’s pals who had been arrested with him over the weekend, boxing champion Mohammad Reza Nikraftar and kickboxer Najaf Abu Ali, additionally haven’t been heard from since, Eghbali mentioned.

“The accused performed a key position in developing, inviting and inspiring riots in Isfahan province and within the town of Shahin Shahr,” a spokesperson for Isfahan Province Judiciary, Seyyed Mohammad Mousavian mentioned in keeping with IRNA.

After his arrest, a brief video clip of what seems to be Salehi blindfolded emerged on state-backed information company, the Younger Newshounds Membership (YJC). Salehi seems to be below duress voicing regret for remarks he made on social media.

Salehi’s uncle was once adamant that the person within the video was once no longer his nephew, including that the federal government had political goals in liberating the quick clip. Eghbali additionally rejects the federal government’s declare that his nephew was once operating away on the time of his arrest.

“Completely no longer,” Eghbali mentioned. “As a result of the place Toomaj was once dwelling or the place we’re in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, mainly we haven’t any strategy to the border. It is a very crackbrained declare. Someone who is aware of the geography of Iran won’t imagine such declare.”

Because the starting of the national protests which began in mid-September, Salehi, who IRNA mentioned was once additionally detained in September 2021, has been calling for Iranians to protest in opposition to the federal government.

“None people have other colour blood,” Salehi posted on Instagram. “Don’t put out of your mind our superb union and don’t let them create department between us, on this bloody and unhappy heaven.”

Salehi, who himself is of Bakhtiari ethnic background, has lengthy rapped about Iran’s multi-ethnic make-up, encouraging solidarity amongst Iranians of various ethnic backgrounds.

“Stand with us, we stood by way of you for years,” Salehi raps in his track “Meydoone jang” which interprets as “The Battlefield.”

“It’s no longer sufficient to be rebellious, we’ve modern roots. Arab, Assyrian, Armenian, Turkmen, Mazandari, Sistani, Baluch, Talysh, Tatar, Azeri, Kurd, Gilaki, Lor, Farsi and Qashqai, we’re the solidarity of rivers: we’re the sea.”

Iranian rap artist Toomaj Salehi was arrested last Saturday alongside two of his friends.

Days sooner than his arrest, Salehi posted movies of himself along protesters in the street on Instagram. Since then, his fanatics, Iranians within the diaspora, in addition to musicians and activists, have known as for his unencumber.

“Numerous rappers have pop out and supported him,” Iranian rapper, songwriter and activist Erfan Paydar instructed CNN. “Toomaj’s bravery of protesting within the streets inspired others to get available in the market and talk up and made other people suppose ‘if he’s prepared to head available in the market and he’s no longer scared, then possibly we shouldn’t be.’”

Paydar mentioned that Salehi lately shared a message along with his depended on pals which was once to be launched within the match he was once arrested. “You are going to cross ahead in keeping with my operation. You’re my maximum depended on individual,” the message reads.

“The concern is with the scholars and staff, you’ll duvet all requires protests, you’ll no longer strengthen any birthday party or staff, don’t write a lot concerning the prisoners until their situation worsens and they have got no voice. Be aware of assault no longer protection.”

Safety forces have arrested a number of musicians and artists together with two different rappers who had been all for protests – Emad Ghavidel from Rasht and Kurdish rapper Saman Yasin from Kermanshah.

Ghavidel was once launched on bond and described in an Instagram put up how he was once tortured and had his enamel smashed. Yasin was once subjected to serious psychological and bodily torture all over his time in custody, in keeping with Norway-based Kurdish human rights staff Hengaw, and charged with against the law that may raise a demise sentence in a sham trial.

“Toomaj’s mom was once a political prisoner,” Salehi’s uncle who lives in Germany instructed CNN. “She has passed on to the great beyond a very long time in the past…if my sister was once nonetheless alive, she would change into Toomaj’s voice. The similar as I’m Toomaj’s voice. The similar as many who’re at the streets [in Iran] are the voice of Toomaj.”

Because the demise of Mahsa Amini in custody, protesters throughout Iran have coalesced round a variety of grievances with the regime. In the meantime, Iranian government were stepping up efforts to finish the rebellion. Round 1,000 other people were charged within the Tehran province for his or her alleged involvement within the protests, state information company IRNA reported remaining week.

The pains of the ones accused might be heard in public over the approaching days, IRNA mentioned, mentioning Ali Al-Qasi Mehr, leader justice of Tehran province.

Iranian media mentioned remaining weekend that the rigors for a number of demonstrators had began the former week.

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