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Family fears Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj to be charged with crime punishable by death

The household of an Iranian dissident rapper is fearful for his life, saying the regime is attempting to cost him with a crime that carries the death penalty.

Toomaj Salehi, 32, has closely criticized the Islamic Republic by way of his lyrics and was arrested final month amid the continuing protests and violent crackdowns within the nation. The underground rapper, identified by his first identify, 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 is predicated in London, informed CBC News she believes the rapper won’t obtain due course of. 

“They have denied him a lawyer of his alternative and assigned him a regime-appointed one as a substitute,” she stated.

Babadi stated the household believes the judiciary plans to cost Toomaj with being a mohareb — which means somebody who “wages conflict towards God.” These are costs that underneath Iran’s Islamic Sharia regulation lead to a death sentence and subsequent execution.

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

“Such a cost, and the truth that it carries a penalty of death, is difficult to comprehend 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 stated.

Students of the Sharif University of Technology attend a protest sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini within the custody of the nation’s morality police, in Tehran on Oct. 7. This picture was taken by a person not employed by the Associated Press and obtained outdoors Iran. (The Associated Press)

Babadi stated the regime is attempting to craft a story to again such a sentence. She stated they’re attempting to fabricate proof that Toomaj was utilizing cash to purchase weapons to assist the favored protests in Iran.

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

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

At least six folks related to the protests have been sentenced to death on costs of moharebeh, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) stated in a information launch Tuesday. Last week, Amnesty International reported that Iranian authorities are searching for the death penalty for at the least 21 folks concerned with the protests — together with Saman Seydi, a Kurdish rapper.

While these are official death sentences, the Islamic Republic beforehand cracked down on anti-regime protesters in 2019, killing 1,500 in lower than two weeks in what has grow to be identified 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 News about what’s taking place in his nation.

Rapper shot underneath torture, says household

Hundreds of individuals have died on account of a hardening of the authorities’ response to the present protest, in accordance to the UNHCR. That determine contains at the least 40 youngsters. According to a number of stories, over 15,000 folks 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 greater, given the challenges in getting data 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 examine reported human rights violations in Iran, associated to the protests. 

Toomaj’s household stated the rapper was tortured closely whereas kidnapped and later detained at an Isfahan jail. They say they’ve data that his foot was damaged due to a gunshot wound. They say stories counsel his foot is now in a solid. 

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

She stated regime brokers are persevering with to harass and stress the household in Iran, to cease them from asking questions and exhibiting up to the jail. On a number of events, Babadi stated the authorities have informed 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, stated Toomaj reached out to him amid the present protests.

“He’s the actual insurgent. He’s an actual revolutionary. People 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 objective to grow to be a actuality,” he stated.

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

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

But to this point, there isn’t any sign of this. On social media, Iranians have been utilizing the hashtag #Toomaj_Salehi, in Persian, to increase consciousness of his arrest. Many are tweeting his songs, lyrics and parts of his YouTube movies to hold his message of preventing for regime change and freedom alive.

Los Angeles-based Iranian rapper Erfan Paydar stated Toomaj is likely one of the most essential figures on this motion. “Unlike others … he confirmed his face. He was on foot in Iran. The world wants to know that he walked the stroll. He believed in motion. He led by instance,” Paydar informed CBC News.

Toomaj’s Twitter, Instagram and Telegram accounts are being run by his workforce, 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 regret for feedback he had made, Iranians reportedly refused to share the video, saying they did not need to participate within the regime’s propaganda.

Protests in a number of cities, together with Toronto, Los Angeles and Berlin, have sought to carry 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 group, significantly within the U.S., to shine a highlight on Toomaj’s case.

“I would really like to see the worldwide rap group to actually stand behind the motion in Iran, particularly behind somebody like Toomaj,” Erfan stated.

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

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

“I do not know why the rap group shouldn’t be doing that. If Jay-Z talks about Toomaj, if Lil Wayne talks about Toomaj, that might be superb,” he stated. 

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

He stated he is additionally stunned Canadian rappers like Drake or the Weeknd haven’t stated something publicly about Toomaj. He says each are from Toronto and are possible conscious of what’s taking place in Iran, given the big diaspora within the metropolis.

An artist inside Iran, who CBC News has agreed not to determine given the continuing violence focusing on dissidents, additionally stated he would really like 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’s an indication of his braveness and his battle for freedom,” he stated. 

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

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

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 picture supplied by Iran Lovers, protesters in Toronto come collectively to assist Toomaj. (PoeticJustice4Iran/Instagram)

Iranians looking forward to Toomaj’s launch

As of Thursday night, practically 60,000 folks 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 state of affairs of human rights within the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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

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

Videos popping out of Iran a ‘small image’ of what’s taking place, says Toomaj

Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi talks to CBC News about what’s taking place in his nation.

He stated 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’s it. I do not see myself as the rest … Whenever I’m going to protests, I all the time fear that if I’m arrested, {that a} phase of protesters will lose hope. Or will get unhappy,” Toomaj informed CBC News in October.

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

Gdaal stated 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 quit. We all thought the Islamic Republic is the large unhealthy wolf that can by no means go away. But, after seeing folks like Toomaj battle, I’m hopeful that there’ll be an finish to the regime.”



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