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Source: IranWire

May 17, 2024

Amnesty Calls for Release of Iranian Rapper on Death Row

Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi and quashing of his death sentence.

"Dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi is at risk of execution after a Revolutionary Court in Esfahan sentenced him to death in April 2024 solely in relation to his participation in the Woman Life Freedom uprising and social media posts critical of the Iranian authorities," Amnesty wrote in a letter addressed to the head of the Islamic Republic's judiciary. 

The human rights organization highlighted the unfairness of Salehi's trial, including his reported torture and lack of investigation into his claims of electric shocks, death threats, beatings, and injuries in prison. 

"I call on you to halt any plans to execute Toomaj Salehi, quash his conviction and death sentence, and release him immediately and unconditionally, as he is held solely for the peaceful exercise of his human rights. 

"Pending his release, provide him with adequate healthcare and regular visits with his family and lawyers; protect him from further torture and other ill-treatment; and order an independent, effective and impartial investigation into his torture allegations, bringing anyone suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials. 

"I urge you to grant independent observers access to protest-related capital trials and immediately establish an official moratorium on executions with a view of abolishing the death penalty," the letter reads. 

Amnesty International further urged Iran to allow independent observers to monitor the case and abolish the death penalty altogether.

Ye-One Rhie, a German MP and advocate for Salehi, condemned the intensified pressure on the rapper after his lawyer appealed the verdict. 

Amir Raisian, Salehi's lawyer, stated that the Supreme Court would review the case within days. 

He expressed hope for a reversal of the sentence based on legal grounds.

A Revolutionary Court in central Isfahan sentenced Salehi, 33, to death last month. 

Salehi was initially arrested in October 2022 after voicing support for the nationwide Woman, Life, Freedom protests that had erupted the previous month. 

He released songs criticizing the government and supporting the protests demanding more civil freedoms and women's rights. 

He also posted pictures and videos of himself during the demonstrations.

In July 2023, a court sentenced the artist to six years and three months in prison for "corruption on Earth." 

He was released on bail on November 18 after the Supreme Court, responding to an appeal, found "flaws in the original sentence" and returned the case to a lower court for reexamination and possible retrial. 

Salehi was returned to prison less than two weeks later to face new charges after publicly discussing his torture in prison in a video.

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