Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi could face the death penalty
His family hasn’t seen or heard from him since he was taken away on October 29
On Saturday, October 29, 50 people raided Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi’s place and took him and two friends away. Now his family is worried they will never see him again because the crimes that he is charged with are punishable by death.
The rapper, usually known by only his first name Toomaj, has been openly supporting the protests in Iran that have been going on since the Morality Police detained Mahsa Amini for not covering her hair with a hijab. They beat her and then three days later she died in police custody on September 16. Women rushed to the streets to protest, but the hard-line Iranian regime has used violence, killed over 250 people, and detained more than 13,000. The regime has also shut down the Internet and has been using facial recognition to stifle protests.
Toomaj has been a vocal critic of the regime and had been in hiding since the protests started. With hundreds of thousands of supporters on YouTube and Twitter, Toomaj has been channeling the collective anger Iran has had since 1979. He’s been able to circumvent the digital war by using VPNs and getting word to the outside world.
To get authorities to let Toomaj go, his uncle Eghbal Eghbali posted a letter about the torture and pain the rapper has been through since he was arrested. He said the government thinks he has played a key role in the protests and is being charged with propaganda against the state, cooperation with hostile governments, and creating an illegal group to disrupt national security.
In a video released one day before he was taken away from his last hiding space, Toomaj said, “I don’t fear for my own life or safety, but I’m worried that my arrest would dampen the spirit of young protesters.”
Check out Toomaj’s 2021 video for ‘Rat Hole’ with English subtitles below.