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Iranian Political Prisoners Condemn Looming Execution Of Rapper


A group of high profile political prisoners in Iran have denounced the death sentence handed down to dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi, calling it a sign of Iran’s “inhuman nature and deep corruption.”

Earlier this week, an Iranian revolutionary court sentenced the outspoken artist to death for his songs supporting the nationwide protests of 2022, charges that his lawyer, Amir Raeisian, claims he had previously been acquitted of.

Among the 14 political prisoners who have voiced their concerns are Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi, former MP and daughter to former president Faezeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, reformist politician Mostafa Tajzadeh, civil rights activist Golrokh Iraee, political activist Abdollah Momeni, and Islamic scholar Sedigheh Vasmaghi.

The group stated that the Iranian government “reacts with extreme cruelty even to protests made in the language of art.” A 20-day appeal period is available to 33-year-old Salehi, dubbed “the world’s bravest rapper” by Western media. According to his lawyer, he intends to appeal the decision.

The statement read, “The punishment for our silence today is the death sentence for all of us tomorrow; they will silence every voice. This absolute horror will end with the infinite power of people’s resistance in these occupied streets.”

Unions and artists in Iran have also raised their concerns and asked for Salehi’s penalty to be reduced. Khashayar Sefidi, suspended from art school in Iran for participating in the 2022 nationwide protest, announced on Saturday that he had begun a hunger strike at Iran Music House in Tehran to protest Salehi’s harsh punishment.

“I am worried for Tomaj’s life. I am worried, and there is nothing I can do. I can only show my support with what I have: my body and my will. To oppose the injustice against Toomaj and others like him,” Sefidi wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday.

Fars Province Teachers Trade Union also released a statement on Friday, calling Salehi’s sentence “unfair” as “the judiciary doesn’t see embezzlers and thieves stealing the public funds, but they arrest artists.”

Dozens of celebrities from singers to actors have been arrested since 2022, many of whom have been banned from work, had bank accounts frozen and been given travel bans, in addition to heavy fines and even prison terms.

Asserting that “the path of legal criticism and activism” has been blocked in Iran, these trade union activists wrote: “The suppressed anger of the people may flare up in the near future, leading to more radical movements in society.”

Additionally, the Khuzestan Province Teachers’ Trade Union has condemned Toomaj Salehi’s court as “unfounded”.

Iranians in diaspora have organized rallies over the weekend across four continents, from Australia to Europe and North America to protest the death sentence.