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Household fears Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj to be charged with crime punishable by demise


The household of an Iranian dissident rapper is fearful for his life, saying the regime is making an attempt to cost him with against the law that carries the demise penalty.

Toomaj Salehi, 32, has closely criticized the Islamic Republic by way of his lyrics and was arrested final month amid the continued protests and violent crackdowns within the nation. The underground rapper, recognized by his first title, was additionally actively supporting the protests in Iran, releasing music, sending messages of assist and even exhibiting up on the streets himself. 

Toomaj’s cousin, Azadeh Babadi, who relies in London, advised CBC Information she believes the rapper is not going to obtain due course of. 

“They’ve denied him a lawyer of his selection and assigned him a regime-appointed one as an alternative,” she mentioned.

Babadi mentioned the household believes the judiciary plans to cost Toomaj with being a mohareb — that means somebody who “wages battle towards God.” These are expenses that beneath Iran’s Islamic Sharia legislation lead to a demise sentence and subsequent execution.

The regime in Iran has a protracted historical past of accusing dissidents of being “moharebs,” mentioned Toronto-based lawyer and human rights activist Kaveh Shahrooz.

“Such a cost, and the truth that it carries a penalty of demise, is difficult to understand for a lot of Westerners, as a result of it appears so medieval. And it’s. It speaks to the truth that Iran’s regime has a mindset belonging to the darkish ages,” Shahrooz mentioned.

College students of the Sharif College of Expertise attend a protest sparked by the demise of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini within the custody of the nation’s morality police, in Tehran on Oct. 7. This photograph was taken by a person not employed by the Related Press and obtained exterior Iran. (The Related Press)

Babadi mentioned the regime is making an attempt to craft a story to again such a sentence. She mentioned they’re making an attempt to manufacture proof that Toomaj was utilizing cash to purchase weapons to assist the favored protests in Iran.

In an interview final month with CBC Information, nevertheless, Toomaj maintained that the individuals ought to proceed to withstand peacefully till they attain tens of millions.

The Islamic Republic has been gripped by nationwide protests because the demise of 22-year-old Kurdish lady Mahsa Amini on Sept. 16 within the custody of the so-called morality police. 

A minimum of six individuals related to the protests have been sentenced to demise on expenses of moharebeh, the UN Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) mentioned in a information launch Tuesday. Final week, Amnesty Worldwide reported that Iranian authorities are in search of the demise penalty for at the least 21 individuals concerned with the protests — together with Saman Seydi, a Kurdish rapper.

Whereas these are official demise sentences, the Islamic Republic beforehand cracked down on anti-regime protesters in 2019, killing 1,500 in lower than two weeks in what has develop into recognized now as “Bloody November.”

WATCH | Toomaj on why the protest in Iran will continue to grow:

Iran’s protest motion will solely develop, says Toomaj

Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi talks to CBC Information about what’s occurring in his nation.

Rapper shot beneath torture, says household

Tons of of individuals have died on account of a hardening of the authorities’ response to the present protest, in keeping with the UNHCR. That determine consists of at the least 40 youngsters. In keeping with a number of reviews, over 15,000 individuals have been arrested, together with artists and thought leaders who’ve expressed assist for the protests.

Many assume the numbers of deaths and arrests to be a lot increased, given the challenges in getting info out of Iran. The crackdown has led to a particular and historic session on the United Nations, the place its Human Rights Council voted Thursday in favour of making a new fact-finding mission to research reported human rights violations in Iran, associated to the protests. 

Toomaj’s household mentioned the rapper was tortured closely whereas kidnapped and later detained at an Isfahan jail. They are saying they’ve info that his foot was damaged on account of a gunshot wound. They are saying reviews counsel his foot is now in a solid. 

For over three weeks, the rapper’s father has proven as much as the jail in hopes of seeing him or talking with him. Babadi mentioned the household believes that Toomaj’s bodily situation have to be so dire, that the authorities are stalling for time and should not permitting anybody entry to him.

She mentioned regime brokers are persevering with to harass and stress the household in Iran, to cease them from asking questions and exhibiting as much as the jail. On a number of events, Babadi mentioned the authorities have advised the household lies to distract them or to “tire them out.”

After arrest, Toomaj continues to encourage protesters

Iranian rapper Gdaal, who’s from Tehran and now based mostly in Toronto, mentioned Toomaj reached out to him amid the present protests.

“He is the true insurgent. He is an actual revolutionary. Individuals like Toomaj made me think about that I may return to Iran. He impressed me to be an activist. All my life is devoted to this now. Nothing else issues anymore. I simply need Toomaj’s purpose to develop into a actuality,” he mentioned.

Tensions between supporters of the Iran regime and people who need change are being felt within the Iranian diaspora in Toronto, as seen on this photograph taken earlier this month. (Robert Krbavac/Radio-Canada)

Toomaj advised CBC Information final month he wasn’t nervous about his personal life or security, however did fear that if he was arrested, it will dampen the spirit of younger protestors.

However to date, there is no signal of this. On social media, Iranians have been utilizing the hashtag #Toomaj_Salehi, in Persian, to boost consciousness of his arrest. Many are tweeting his songs, lyrics and parts of his YouTube movies to maintain his message of combating for regime change and freedom alive.

Los Angeles-based Iranian rapper Erfan Paydar mentioned Toomaj is without doubt one of the most essential figures on this motion. “Not like others … he confirmed his face. He was on foot in Iran. The world must know that he walked the stroll. He believed in motion. He led by instance,” Paydar advised CBC Information.

Toomaj’s Twitter, Instagram and Telegram accounts are being run by his crew, as they proceed to push out messages and updates about protests in cities throughout the nation.

WATCH | CBC’s Nahayat Tizhoosh on Toomaj’s arrest:

When the Islamic Republic’s state broadcaster IRIB revealed a video on social media Nov. 2 purportedly exhibiting Toomaj expressing remorse for feedback he had made, Iranians reportedly refused to share the video, saying they did not wish to participate within the regime’s propaganda.

Protests in a number of cities, together with Toronto, Los Angeles and Berlin, have sought to deliver consideration to Toomaj’s case within the hopes to see him freed.

Iranian rappers name on the rap business in U.S., Canada

Many Iranians are calling on the rap neighborhood, notably within the U.S., to shine a highlight on Toomaj’s case.

“I want to see the worldwide rap neighborhood to actually stand behind the motion in Iran, particularly behind somebody like Toomaj,” Erfan mentioned.

People wearing black hold a photo of the rapper Toomaj.
On this Instagram photograph from Nov. 7, individuals in Toronto name for Toomaj’s launch at a protest organized by the group Iran Lovers. (PoeticJustice4Iran/Instagram)

Whereas many celebrities, together with Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber, have posted about protests in Iran on social media, Gdaal mentioned he is dissatisfied and annoyed that the rap neighborhood has not finished the identical for Toomaj.

“I do not know why the rap neighborhood just isn’t doing that. If Jay-Z talks about Toomaj, if Lil Wayne talks about Toomaj, that may be superb,” he mentioned. 

“I do not know why they do not say something about him.… The rap business within the U.S. is like heaven, if you happen to evaluate it to Iran. The day you are well-known, you are wealthy. The day you are well-known in Iran, you are in peril.”

He mentioned he is additionally shocked Canadian rappers like Drake or the Weeknd haven’t mentioned something publicly about Toomaj. He says each are from Toronto and are doubtless conscious of what’s occurring in Iran, given the massive diaspora within the metropolis.

An artist inside Iran, who CBC Information has agreed to not establish given the continued violence focusing on dissidents, additionally mentioned he want to see rappers within the West assist Toomaj. 

“I would really like actual rappers to assist Toomaj, as a result of he’s a real rapper and is protesting the system in a rustic that’s among the many most felony in historical past. It is a signal of his braveness and his struggle for freedom,” he mentioned. 

“And that is the signal of an actual rapper — that he all the time fights towards injustice and stands up for his individuals.”

He says he needs American rapper NF to be the voice of Toomaj. “He is one of many few rappers Toomaj likes and even hoped to collaborate with at some point,” he mentioned.

Young people wear shirts showing the image of the rapper Toomaj and hold signs. They are standing outside at a protest.
In one other Nov. 7 Instagram photograph supplied by Iran Lovers, protesters in Toronto come collectively to assist Toomaj. (PoeticJustice4Iran/Instagram)

Iranians eager for Toomaj’s launch

As of Thursday night, almost 60,000 individuals had signed their names to an on-line petition began by Toomaj’s household and supporters, calling for the discharge of the rapper. The petition is to be delivered to Javaid Rehman, the particular rapporteur on the scenario of human rights within the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The artist inside Iran advised CBC Information that though he is nervous about many situations, his greatest fear is that the protesters will lose their hope or be discouraged and never proceed with their struggle towards the regime.

WATCH | Toomaj says we solely see a sliver of what is occurring in Iran:

Movies popping out of Iran a ‘small image’ of what’s occurring, says Toomaj

Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi talks to CBC Information about what’s occurring in his nation.

He mentioned Toomaj would need the protesters to proceed, it doesn’t matter what occurs to him.

“I see myself as one particular person amongst protesters. That is it. I do not see myself as anything.… At any time when I’m going to protests, I all the time fear that if I am arrested, {that a} section of protesters will lose hope. Or will get unhappy,” Toomaj advised CBC Information in October.

“We do not have time for grief. If my family members, on both aspect of me, are killed, I’ve to develop into offended, I’ve to pursue justice.”

Gdaal mentioned he needs Toomaj and different political prisoners who’ve been jailed by the Islamic Republic to see a free Iran. 

“This dictatorship, all of the struggling we now have endured. It made us surrender. All of us thought the Islamic Republic is the massive dangerous wolf that may by no means go away. However, after seeing individuals like Toomaj struggle, I’m hopeful that there shall be an finish to the regime.”



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