#SaveToomaj : calls to save Iranian rapper sentenced to death

HomeNews#SaveToomaj : calls to save Iranian rapper sentenced to death



Iranian authorities face mounting pressure to release and acquit prominent Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who has been sentenced to death for “corruption on earth” after supporting the 2022 protests in Iran, Woman, Life, Freedom.

Toomaj Salehi, 33, faces the gallows. Arrested in October 2022, he had expressed support for the protests triggered by the September 16, 2022, death of Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian Kurd detained by the morality police for violating strict dress codes imposed on women.

The verdict issued by the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan, as reported by a local Iranian media outlet citing the rapper’s lawyer on Wednesday, stunned NGOs and activists, contradicting a previous Supreme Court decision.

“This is a grotesque manipulation of the judicial process,” accused Hadi Ghaemi, director of the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), based in New York, alleging that the verdict aims to “silence dissent.”

Supporters of the young artist have launched a social media campaign under the hashtag #SaveToomaj.

“This is devastating news, and we must all speak out and do everything in our power to #SaveToomaj. He is a national hero,” wrote British-Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi on X.

The verdict comes amid heightened repression in Iran, particularly against women, and a sharp rise in executions. According to Amnesty International, 853 people were executed in 2023, a 48% increase from 2022. Since the beginning of the year, 130 have been executed, according to the Norway-based NGO IHR.

The verdict against Salehi came shortly after another rapper, Saman Yasin, was sentenced to five years in prison. He had initially been sentenced to death.

According to his lawyer, he was subjected to torture and forced confessions.

“We call for their immediate release,” said Deputy U.S. Special Envoy on Iran Abram Paley. The convictions of the two rappers “are the latest examples of the regime’s brutality against its own citizens, its contempt for human rights, and its fear of the democratic change hoped for by Iranians.”

International Outcry

The death sentence of Toomaj Salehi was denounced on Thursday by France, Italy, and experts from a UN working group.

France denounced an “unacceptable” decision “that adds to the many other death sentences and unjustifiable executions related to the protests of autumn 2022 in Iran.”

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani “strongly condemned” the decision of the Iranian judiciary.

Several organizations have called for a rally in Paris on Sunday to demand his release in an article titled “The Rapper Toomaj Must Be Saved.”

In Geneva, ten independent UN experts condemned this verdict.

“As harsh as Mr. Salehi’s songs may be towards the government, they are a manifestation of artistic freedom and cultural rights,” they said in a statement, signed by five special rapporteurs and the five members of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

They expressed “alarm at the imposition of the death penalty and the alleged ill-treatment of Mr. Salehi, which appears to be solely related to his exercise of his right to freedom of artistic expression and creativity.”

Hundreds of people, including members of law enforcement, were killed, and thousands were arrested during the protests that took place in October and November 2022 in Iran, before subsiding.

Nine people have been executed in connection with this uprising, according to NGOs. Six others are facing imminent execution, according to IHR (Iran Human Rights).

“These convictions are a sign of despair on the part of the Islamic Republic regime and its fear of popular dissent,” said IHR director Mahmoud Amiry-Moghaddam.

Also discover