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Alert from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now

Death Sentence of Toomaj Salehi Overturned! editors’ note: We received the following from the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners Now (IEC).

Toomaj Salehi just won the arts category of Index on Censorship’s 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards. Free Toomaj Salehi NOW!


Toomaj Salehi won the arts category of Index on Censorship’s 2023 Freedom of Expression Awards. Free Toomaj Salehi NOW!   

The death sentence of Iranian rebel rapper Toomaj Salehi has been vacated (overturned) by Iran’s Supreme Court, which ordered a retrial of his case.

At noon Tehran time on June 22, one of Toomaj’s lawyers, Amir Raesian, tweeted that Toomaj Salehi’s death sentence was vacated on appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Court reiterated [its previous ruling] that even the previous prison sentence (six years and three months) did not comply with legal provisions and is in excess of legal punishment. 

This is a victory for all of those who have fought fiercely for Toomaj.

At the same time it remains a towering injustice that Toomaj is still in prison, still in danger under the vengeful control of the same authorities who sentenced him, and still lacking necessary treatment for the results of the torture he suffered for months, such as badly knitted broken bones. Thousands of political prisoners remain behind bars in deathly conditions, and Iran continues to execute both political and non-political prisoners at a horrific pace.

Ever since the Isfahan lower court ordered Toomaj’s death sentence on April 24 (contradicting an earlier Supreme Court ruling), hundreds of thousands of people—ranging from youth and musicians and street organizations in Iran to common people and major celebrities around the world— have posted, protested and mobilized, spray painted and written and sung, to make clear to the Islamic Republic of Iran that Toomaj Salehi’s life is a “red line.”

Recognizing this as the key factor, @ToomajOfficial (Toomaj’s X account run by an appointed admin) wrote immediately on X:

People’s unified efforts and support and the pressure of the international community and public opinion were fruitful. From the unhesitating support of all the fans inside Iran ... human rights activists and organizations, and the media who, during this period, became the voice of the son of Iran, who was the voice of an oppressed nation. We are very grateful. The hope is that we will continue this unity, which is the character, purpose and advice of #toomajsalehi until the complete freedom of Toomaj and the freedom and liberation of all those who are unjustly imprisoned or sentenced to death by extra-legal institutions, and until the final victory, firmly and steadfastly. #FreeToomaj

Burn The Cage detailed this as part of its announcement on IG (excerpted and translated by IEC volunteers):

Earlier, the Amnesty International organization… demanded the cancellation of the death sentence of Toomaj Salehi, the dissident rapper. Artists, musicians, writers and prominent cultural figures also wrote about solidarity with Toomaj Salehi: “Art must be allowed to criticize, provoke, question and challenge authority. This is both our right and duty as artists… No artist should face judicial harassment for exercising their right to freedom of expression, let alone being sentenced to death.” Also, the International Emergency Campaign to Free Iran’s Political Prisoners played an important role by organizing numerous programs and actions to support Toomaj and condemning his death sentence in various US cities to make his voice heard and other political prisoners heard... PEN America Society and artists, writers and various personalities around the world have condemned Toomaj Salehi’s [sentence]. Hoping for the immediate release of Toomaj and all Iranian political prisoners.

Just a couple of days before the verdict, Toomaj sent this poetic message from Isfahan Prison via his social media admins to commemorate June 20, the International Day in Support of Political Prisoners in Iran: 

Magnificent lantern, glory to you for becoming a light in the heart of darkness. Glory to you for galloping against the devils with courage as your only ally. Glory to you for remaining loyal to honor, for slamming the door on all these years of opportunity. [i.e., making professional and personal sacrifices—translator’s note] Glory to you for standing beside the powerless against the power.


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