Iranian authorities have demonstrated once again they fear the Iranian people.
Prominent Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi has been sentenced to six years and three months in prison because of his participation in the wide-spread, peaceful, anti-regime protests that spread throughout Iran last autumn after the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, arrested for improperly wearing her hijab.
Tens of thousands of people were arrested during the violent crackdown by the regime over the protests; 500 people were killed, and seven were executed.
Toomaj Salehi, who is 32 years old, was arrested in October and spent months in solitary confinement after he posted songs and videos supporting the protests. In one video with more than 450,000 views on YouTube, he rapped, “Someone’s crime was dancing with her hair in the wind.”
After his arrest, Iranian state media released a video of Salehi blindfolded and bruised, apologizing for his “mistakes.” As the most recent U.S. State Department annual report on Human Rights in Iran made clear, Iranian courts “regularly …considered as evidence confessions often extracted through coercion or torture.”
Salehi was charged with a myriad of crimes, and found guilty of incitement to violence, “corruption on earth,” and spreading propaganda. He was acquitted on charges of cooperating with a hostile government and insulting the Supreme Leader.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller called the verdict and prison sentence for Toomaj Salehi “disturbing” and said the United States continues to “monitor his condition.”
“He has been consistently denied access to legal representation. His trial was held behind closed doors, following reports in April he was in urgent need of medical attention after he was tortured while in detention,” Spokesperson Miller noted. “The regime’s harsh treatment in this matter is deeply troubling and must be brought to an end, and we would call on the Iranian authorities to release him and all political prisoners.
“The world is watching, and we’ll continue to coordinate with our allies and partners to hold Iranian authorities accountable for their human rights abuses.”