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Iran Sentences Outstanding Rapper to Loss of life, Lawyer Says


A dissident rapper has been sentenced to dying in Iran after releasing music in help of antigovernment demonstrations that rocked the nation in 2022, in response to his lawyer, in a case that has prompted world condemnation.

The rapper, Toomaj Salehi, 33, was some of the distinguished voices amongst these arrested over nationwide protests in opposition to Iran’s clerical rulers after the dying in police custody of Mahsa Amini, 22. Human rights organizations have been calling for Mr. Salehi’s launch, saying that he has been tortured in jail and warning that he might face execution.

Amir Raesian, Mr. Salehi’s lawyer, advised the Iranian reformist newspaper Shargh in an article revealed on Wednesday {that a} court docket within the central metropolis of Isfahan had sentenced Mr. Salehi to dying and that his shopper deliberate to enchantment.

The workplace of the U.S. Particular Envoy for Iran condemned the sentence, calling it one other instance of “the regime’s brutal abuse of its personal residents, disregard for human rights, and worry of the democratic change the Iranian folks search.”

Mr. Salehi was initially arrested in October 2022 for releasing music criticizing the federal government and backing the demonstrations ignited by the dying of Ms. Amini within the custody of Iran’s morality police. He additionally posted movies on his Instagram account encouraging his followers to protest.

The Iranian authorities charged him that November with “spreading corruption on earth,” an offense that may carry the dying penalty. U.N. consultants mentioned the court docket proceedings had been held behind closed doorways with out Mr. Salehi’s lawyer current and expressed alarm about reviews the artist had been tortured, citing reviews of his damaged nostril and several other damaged fingers.

In April 2023, rights teams once more mentioned that Mr. Salehi — who was persistently denied entry to authorized illustration — had been tortured in jail and required pressing medical help.

Mr. Salehi was sentenced three months later to over six years in jail by a court docket in Isfahan after a closed-door trial. He was additionally banned from producing music or singing for 2 years, in response to a State Division doc. Iran’s Supreme Courtroom discovered points with that ruling, and Mr. Salehi was launched from jail in November 2023, solely to be rearrested lower than two weeks later and in the end charged with “propaganda in opposition to the state,” in response to U.N. consultants.

The Isfahan court docket’s transfer to successfully ignore the Supreme Courtroom and hand down a dying sentence was “unprecedented,” Mr. Salehi’s lawyer advised Shargh.

The Middle for Human Rights in Iran, an impartial advocacy group primarily based in New York, mentioned the dying sentence was a “new low in Iran’s crackdown on dissent.”

“Toomaj’s imprisonment stems from his vocal advocacy in opposition to state oppression,” it mentioned in an announcement. “It’s crucial that supporters of free speech and dissent unite to demand his rapid launch.”

The State Division, which has described Mr. Salehi as a “political prisoner,” known as the reviews {that a} dying sentence had been handed down “disturbing.”

“We’re speaking about somebody who has already confronted torture and different harsh remedies in detention,” Vedant Patel, a State Division spokesman, advised a information briefing on Wednesday.

Mr. Salehi was well-known in Iran lengthy earlier than his imprisonment, rapping in Persian about injustice and inequality. In lyrics that resonated deeply with Iranian youth, he wrote about poverty, little one labor and executions, whereas calling out the nation’s clerics for corruption, state mismanagement and repression.

“The higher lessons have a voice sufficient,” he as soon as mentioned in an Instagram video. “I feel rap is the voice of the suffocated throats.”

He had his first huge hit with “Rathole” in 2021, rapping about regime apologists in Iran and overseas. The lyrics upset Iran’s leaders: Mr. Salehi was arrested in September 2021. He was launched on bail after followers and human rights organizations campaigned for his freedom.

The episode didn’t deter Mr. Salehi from pursuing his artwork: “Shall the pen that doesn’t write break. Behold what these folks have suffered,” he wrote on social media that month.

When the antigovernment protests broke out in Iran in September 2022, Mr. Salehi filmed himself with the protesters and once more used his lyrics to take purpose on the nation’s clerical leaders.

“We’re the voice of the anger of individuals whose voice was silenced,” he rapped in “Battlefield,” which was launched throughout the peak of the demonstrations.

“We come to streets like ghosts and develop into a nightmare for the federal government,” the lyrics proceed, in a music video interspersed with protest footage. “We see the sunshine after this hell. Neither suppression nor regulation nor execution can cease us.”

The Iranian safety forces in the end killed a whole lot of protesters and arrested tens of 1000’s in a broad crackdown. Since then, the Iranian authorities have carried out a string of executions after cursory trials on costs linked to the protests.

In a video caption posted on Instagram on Oct. 28 — two days earlier than his preliminary arrest in 2022 — Mr. Salehi mentioned, “This can be a revolution.”

“Each step we take is critical to succeed in our purpose,” he wrote. “Be a part of us!”





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