Toomaj Salehi: 'Nothing just or lawful' about Iranian rapper's trial

German MP campaigns for release of hip-hop artist arrested during protests

Toomaj Salehi is said to be in custody in Iran without contact with his family. Photo: @OfficialToomaj / Twitter
Powered by automated translation

An Iranian rapper arrested during anti-regime protests is being held in an unknown location with no contact with his family, a German MP campaigning for his release has said.

Supporters of the artist, Toomaj Salehi, also accuse Iran of filming a forced confession that was published by pro-regime media.

Mr Salehi, 32, could face the death penalty after being charged with “corruption on earth” and spreading anti-regime propaganda.

The German MP, Ye-One Rhie, dismissed assurances from Iran’s ambassador to Germany that Mr Salehi was being treated fairly.

Ambassador Mahmoud Farazandeh wrote to her that Mr Salehi’s trial would be conducted fairly, under the rule of law and with Islamic mercy.

But Ms Rhie, a member of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democratic Party, said: “Nothing about the trial is just, lawful or merciful.

“On the contrary, Toomaj is being held in an unknown location; he is not being allowed contact with his family nor with a lawyer of his choice. The presumption of innocence does not apply,” Ms Rhie said.

The ambassador said he had forwarded Ms Rhie’s concerns to authorities in Iran.

But Ms Rhie said the diplomat’s letter was unsatisfactory and was contradicted by the apparent confession.

She said she would keep writing to the ambassador every week until hip-hop artist Mr Salehi is freed.

“His response does not answer any of our questions. It does not change the facts at all. I will continue to fight for the life of Toomaj,” Ms Rhie said.

UN experts say thousands of people have been arrested since the protests erupted in September.

They have urged Iran to stop using the threat of the death penalty as a way of silencing demonstrations.

Before his arrest, Mr Salehi had released videos supporting the protests and referring to the dress code at the heart of the unrest.

The protests were triggered by the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, in the custody of Iran’s morality police in September. She had been detained in Tehran for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

State media said Mr Salehi had “promoted violence and conflict with armed forces”.

Germany last month steered a resolution through the UN Human Rights Council launching a new investigation into the unrest.

It came after MPs urged tougher action from Mr Scholz, including listing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation.

Updated: December 08, 2022, 9:37 AM