Iran Rapper Arrested After Encouraging Iranians To Protest
Iran rapper arrested after encouraging Iranians to protestas some lyrics in his song caught the attention of the Iran government.
“Someone’s crime was that her hair was flowing in the wind. Someone’s crime was that he or she was brave and were outspoken.”
Toomaj Salehi, an Iranian rapper, could die because of these lyrics. In any other country, he could have rapped about the problems his people face every day without getting in trouble. But Salehi's fate is very different because he lives in Iran.
The underground dissident rapper, who is 32 years old, and two of his friends were violently arrested last Saturday, his uncle said. According to Iranian state media, they are now being charged with crimes that are punishable by death.
A top United Nations official says that as many as 14,000 people have been arrested in Iran because of the protests that have been going on there since September. This includes journalists, activists, lawyers, and teachers.
Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman, died on September 16 after being detained by "morality police" and taken to a "re-education center" because she wasn't wearing her hijab right, which is what started the unrest.
Salehi's uncle, Eghbal Eghbali, said:
I woke up at two o’clock in the morning with a phone call from Toomaj’s friend saying 'our whereabouts have been leaked.' Since then we have been worried about what has happened to Toomaj.- Salehi's uncle, Eghbal Eghbali
Eghbali says that later that morning, he heard from Salehi's friends that about 50 people broke into his nephew's house in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, which is in the southwestern part of Iran.
The rapper is accused of “propagandistic activity against the government, cooperation with hostile governments, and forming illegal groups with the intention of creating insecurity in the country,” according to the state-run IRNA, which quoted the Esfahan province court.
Salehi's uncle told that his nephew is being held in a prison in the city of Isfahan and that he was tortured. Salehi lives in Shahin Shahr, which is about 20 kilometers north of Isfahan.
We still do not know anything about Toomaj’s healthcondition. The family has tried very hard to even just hear his voice, but no one has given us any information about Toomaj. We don’t even know if Toomaj and his friends are alive or not.- Salehi's uncle, Eghbal Eghbali
Eghbali said that Salehi's friends Mohammad Reza Nikraftar and Najaf Abu Ali, who were arrested with him over the weekend, haven't been seen or heard from since.
IRNA quoted Seyyed Mohammad Mousavian, a spokesman for the Isfahan Province Judiciary, as saying, “The accused played a key role in creating, inviting and encouraging riots in Isfahan province and in the city of Shahin Shahr.”
After his arrest, a state-backed newsagency called the Young Journalists Club posted a short video clip of what looks like Salehi blindfolded (YJC). Salehi seems to be under pressure when he says he's sorry for things he said on social media.
Salehi's uncle was very sure that the man in the video was not his nephew. He also said that the government released the short clip for political reasons. Eghbali also doesn't believe the government's claim that his nephew was trying to escape when he was caught.
Absolutely not. Because where Toomaj was living or where we are in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province, basically we have no way to the border. This is a very crackbrained claim. Anyone who knows the geography of Iran will not believe such claim.- Salehi's uncle, Eghbal Eghbali
Salehi, who IRNA said was also arrested in September 2021, has been calling for Iranians to protest against the government since the nationwide protests started in the middle of September.