Global hip-hop giants urged to speak out on behalf of imprisoned Iranian rapper at risk of execution | TBEN news

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A new video campaign hopes to ramp up public pressure on the Iranian regime to release a prominent dissident rapper who has been arbitrarily detained for 80 days.

Launched by a close confidante of Toomaj Salehi, who often only uses his first name, the campaign calls on the global hip-hop community and other musical artists to save Toomaj’s life.

Negin Niknaam, who uses a pseudonym for her last name on social media for security reasons, told TBEN News that the rapper’s life is in grave danger. She said Toomaj is in solitary confinement most of the time.

Toomaj was indicted in late November on several charges, the most serious of which translates to “corruption on earth” – a charge punishable by death under Iran’s sharia law.

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Niknaam says great efforts have been made to raise awareness of Toomaj’s case. That includes the support of the German politician Ye-One Rhiewho has taken on the rapper’s political sponsorship and lobbied the ambassador of the Islamic Republic in Berlin to release him.

LOOK | Social media campaign urges musicians to speak out about Iranian rapper’s detention:

Social campaign launched on behalf of imprisoned Iranian rapper Toomaj

Supporters of imprisoned dissident Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi have launched this campaign on social media to raise awareness of his case and say he is at risk of execution.

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But Niknaam says it’s not enough and Toomaj could be sentenced to death at any moment.

“This is why I felt like I had to get in front of the camera for the first time, even though it’s risky for me,” Niknaam said.

She said it is important that Toomaj is released before he is officially sentenced.

‘No well-known rappers have spoken out for him’

The Iranian regime has continued its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests, including the execution of at least four protesterswhich the UN evokes state-sanctioned killings.

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In addition to the official executions, according to the regime, at least 525 Iranians, including 71 children, have been killed by the regime since anti-regime protests began on September 16, 2022, according to the regime. HRANA.

Protests erupted after the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for wearing her hijab inappropriately by the so-called morality police that enforces the religious laws of the Islamic Republic. Her family insists she was beaten to death by regime agents.

A person waves his arms in front of a fire in the street during a protest as other masked protesters watch.
A photo obtained by TBEN outside Iran on September 21, 2022, shows Iranian protesters taking to the streets in the capital Tehran, during a protest days after Mahsa Amini, a young Iranian woman, died in police custody. (TBEN/Getty Images)

Toomaj was one of the first prominent voices to be targeted by the regime when he was kidnapped by plainclothes agents on October 30, 2022.

In a video posted late Tuesday to Toomaj’s 1.2 million Instagram followers, Niknaam called on the international community to call for his release, “especially rappers and artists”.

“I’m surprised no famous rapper has spoken out for him,” Niknaam told TBEN. “Where are they?”

So far, thousands of social media users have commented on the video message, tagging rappers such as Canadian Drake, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean, as well as singers such as Adele, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira.

Iranian rappers Gdaal and Erfan, who previously live in Toronto and Los Angeles respectively told TBEN News they are surprised and frustrated that none of the giants in the rap community, like Jay-Z, have spoken out about Toomaj or the protests in Iran.

LOOK | Toomaj speaks to TBEN about the magnitude of the Iranian crackdown:

Videos coming from Iran give a “small picture” of what is happening, says Toomaj

Iranian dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi talks to TBEN News about what’s happening in his country.

Many of Toomaj’s fans have also tagged or tweeted to American rapper NF, who Toomaj has said is the only artist he would like to work with.

Niknaam said that because Toomaj is a voice of downtrodden Iranians while living in an autocracy, it is the duty of rappers in the free world to be his voice now.

Multiple injuries

Toomaj’s father has been allowed to visit him at least four times, Niknaam said, while under the supervision of an intelligence officer.

At one meeting, Niknaam said, Toomaj asked his father if people outside are thinking or talking about him.

“My heart broke when I heard this. If only he knew how much people love him and insist on his release,” Niknaam said.

Eghbal Eghbali, Toomaj’s uncle, recently told Austrian media reports that when the rapper was kidnapped, regime agents tortured him so severely that he could not speak, eat or even drink water for days. Eghbali, who lives in Germany, said Toomaj was probably unconscious for several days.

People in black hold a photo of the rapper Toomaj.
In this Nov. 7 Instagram photo, people in Toronto are calling for Toomaj’s release at a protest organized by the Iran Lovers group. (PoeticJustice4Iran/Instagram)

Reports are coming in from Isfahan Prison, where Toomaj is being held, confirm that he suffered serious injuries from torture, including broken fingers and a broken leg. There is also concern about injuries to his left eyefor which he reportedly received no medical attention.

Despite this, Toomaj has apparently asked his father to bring him books to read.

According to Iran watchersthe regime’s intelligence and security officials will likely decide the fate of Toomaj.

Nevertheless, Iranians have expressed concern on social media about the judge who will hand down Toomaj’s sentence.

Morteza Baratiwho heads the first branch of the Revolutionary Court of Isfahan has already sentenced several men to death for their involvement in the protests.

The regime’s revolutionary courts usually appoint their own lawyers for defendants, but Niknaam said Toomaj’s family-appointed lawyer was recently given access to review the rapper’s files.

She said that the lawyer has not yet been allowed to meet Toomaj in person.

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