The Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi was beaten by armed police on the streets of Tehran on 30 November and taken to an unknown location. He had previously posted a video on social media describing the torture he had been subjected to during his last eleven months in prison. The Iranian regime accused him of making false statements and inciting hatred in the video. Toomaj was only released on bail a week and a half ago. The mistreatment he suffered in prison is so serious that he is due to undergo surgery in the next few days.
PEN Berlin reported Salehi’s arrest for writing critical texts in December 2022 and made him an honorary member, along with his colleague Saman Yasin. He now faces torture and the death penalty again for exercising his freedom of expression and artistic freedom.
Deniz Yücel, spokesperson for PEN Berlin, said: “While the world focuses on Israel and Gaza, the Islamist dictatorship is executing more and more opponents of the regime. There is also an internal connection between Iran and Israel/Palestine: if the democratic uprising movement had succeeded in overthrowing the mullah regime last year, Hamas might not have dared to carry out the mass murder of 7 October. That is why ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî’ is not only the hope for a better life in Iran, but also the hope for a better, free and peaceful Middle East. The Western world cannot overthrow the Iranian dictatorship. But it can and must refrain from doing anything to support it.”
PEN Berlin calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to release our honorary member Toomaj Salehi immediately. PEN Berlin also calls on the German government to do everything in its power to save Toomaj.
PEN Berlin. We stand by our word.