By Kayhan Life Staff
On Sept. 13, security forces arrested Toomaj Salehi, an Iranian rapper well known for protest songs including Soorakh Moosh (“Rat Hole”), Turkmenchay, and Anar (“Pomegranate”), the Iran Human Rights Monitor (HRM) reports.
HRM added that some 12 Iranian security agents raided Mr. Salehi’s house, searching his home and seizing some of his belongings.
Iran’s authorities must immediately and unconditionally release #TomajSalehi, a dissident rap artist detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. In his songs, he spoke out against repression, corruption, poverty and impunity & called for accountability. pic.twitter.com/Nc8fVcBtom
— Amnesty Iran (@AmnestyIran) September 17, 2021
#ToomajSalehi has been the voice of millions of Iranians. While he’s “kidnapped” by Islamic Republic goons & kept in an unknown location,regime apologists have begun a smearing campaign against him. Here is one of his songs with English subtitle (Part 1):👇#FreeToomaj#IranTruth pic.twitter.com/B22jYmiD3K
— IranTrue (@iran_true) September 16, 2021
Eghbal Eghbali, a German-based political and civil rights activist who says he is Toomaj Salehi’s maternal uncle, said on Sept. 12 that 12 security officers in four cars raided his nephew’s house, arresting Toomaj and taking him to an undisclosed location.
“They have arrested my nephew, Toomaj Salehi,” Mr. Eghbali wrote on his Instagram page. “The Islamic Republic does not tolerate the voices of young intellectuals. We will not remain silent and speak against this despicable act committed by the state.”
“We are making the Iranian nation and the international community aware of our concern for [Toomaj],” Eghbali said. “The Islamic Republic does not tolerate free-thinking youths. The regime is trying to silence a massive storm forming within the Iranian society.”
Eghbali said Toomaj was not a political activist or a dissident, adding that he only gave voice to the concerns of ordinary Iranian boys, girls, men, and women.
Eghbali said authorities had persecuted their families for decades, and sadly “Tooraj will not be the last person tortured by the state.”
In his protest song Soorakh Moosh, Salehi tells regime insiders, supporters, and lobbyists of the Islamic Republic, including “state-supported journalists, silly reporters, artists, security agents, public servants, senior officials, executioners following orders, powerless functionaries, useless reformists,” and others, to “use their dollars and buy a rat hole.”
In a tweet on Sept. 11, Toomaj wrote about his “imminent arrest.”
“Know that I am not afraid of death or of being imprisoned and tortured,” Toomaj said in another tweet. “I am horrified and feel as if I am suffocating at the sight of poor people forced to sell their bodies and rummage through trash bins and gasp for air, seeing you brutalize workers and kill protesters. I cannot breathe witnessing you torture the grieving families of the slain protesters who seek justice. There is a sea of blood between you and us.”
Toomaj began his career as a rap singer in early 2020. He belongs to a group of Iranian artists who highlight social realities despite state censorship and constant harassment by the security forces.
In his rap songs, Toomaj addresses street protests, workers’ strikes, imprisonment, executions, reformists policies, state supporters, the 25-year accord with China, child suicide, neglecting artists, and political and financial corruption.
“If you saw peoples’ pain but looked away
If you saw the suppression of the oppressed but walked right past
If you did it out of fear or for your own interests
You’re the hand of the tyrant, you’re a criminal too” #Iran #ToomajSalehi #توماج_صالحی https://t.co/hcxJxMswGM
— Nazenin Ansari (@NazeninA) September 17, 2021
His last song, “Reveal Your Hand, Talib,” discusses the Taliban’s rise to power in Afghanistan.