Free Toomaj Salehi!

Press Release April 25, 2024

Free Toomaj Salehi!

The well-known rapper Toomaj Salehi has been sentenced to death in Iran. A revolutionary court in the central Iranian city of Isfahan handed down the sentence on the charge of »depravity on earth«. Salehi is an honorary member of PEN Berlin. He was arrested in October 2022 during the Mahsa Amini protests for his dissident writings, released on bail a year later and arrested again shortly afterwards.

Ye-One Rhie, a member of the Bundestag who has taken on a »political sponsorship« for him, is calling for the rapper’s immediate release and says: »This judgement would not be passed in an international trial based on the rule of law.«

PEN Berlin joins her call: »Mullahs of Iran, revoke the death penalty for Salehi and drop the charges! And finally stop torturing people. Grant freedom of expression. The more you try to brutally suppress the critical words of your citizens, the louder we hear them«, said PEN Berlin spokesperson Deniz Yücel.

We call on the German government to do everything in its power to save Toomaj Salehi’s life: »Enmity against God« (moharebeh) and »corruption on earth« (ifsad fil-arz) are charges for which no human being should be condemned, let alone allowed to die.

The most important tool of rappers is the word. Because of his free word, his life is under threat. After his brief release, Toomaj Salehi said in a video: »No person or organisation should be above the law. Nevertheless, the secret services in Iran do. Together it will be possible to change this. It may take some time but I’m very hopeful and I know we will build a very beautiful Iran together. I think we will make a great and badass Iran.«

PEN Berlin is committed to making this future possible.

Another honorary member of PEN Berlin, Salehi’s fellow rapper Saman Yasin, asked to be executed out of desperation in February 2024, after a year and a half in prison and torture. He was sentenced to death in the first trial, but the sentence has since been reduced to five years in prison. We also demand his release.

#FreeToomaj #FreeSaman

PEN Berlin – We stand by our word

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