Iranian authorities yesterday arrested the six young men and women who produced the Tehran version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” the song that spawned dozens of video clips from around the world in a moment of musical global connectedness.
The group appeared on state television’s evening news broadcast, grouped in a row facing Tehran Chief of Police Hossein Sajedinia, and confessed to being deceived into appearing in the clip by an unnamed man and woman. Sajedinia advised the young people during the broadcast not to be deceived into appearing in corrupt film productions, and with a smile complimented the swift reaction of his security forces. “These [agents] were able to identify [these young people] within two hours, and within six hours had arrested them all,” he said.
While complimenting the speed of his forces, Sajedinia neglected to mention during the broadcast that the clip has been on YouTube for a month, had over 100,000 views. Though at the time of their arrest access to the clip in Tehran had been disrupted.
IranWire reached a source informed about the nature of the arrests. “All of the young producers received phone calls informing them that a friend had suffered a car accident and required their help. When they arrived at the address they had been given over the phone, security forces were waiting to arrest them.” Security forces have also allegedly threatened the families of those arrested that if they speak to any media about the detentions, their children will not be released.
The source said that each family has paid a bail of 30 million toman, the equivalent of $10,000, and been told if they comply with the demand not to speak to any media outlets, their children will be released tomorrow, Wednesday.
The group was the first in Tehran to produce a clip of “We Are Happy,” and three days after the clip went live on YouTube, one of the producers spoke to IranWire. He said, “We want to keep on working inside Iran. Anyone can be creative and work outside Iran, but our aim is to convey the voice of Iranian young people to the world. We just want a chance to raise our voice, and say that Iran is a better place [than is conceived], that despite all of the pressures they face, Iranian young people are happy and are striving to improve their lot in the world, with the highest of spirits. They know how to be happy, just like everyone else in the world.”
After this original group produced their version of the clip, a number of other young groups took to the rooftops or their cars to make their own videos, posting them all on YouTube.