The family of Toomaj Salehi is raising alarm over the fate of the jailed Iranian dissident rapper, who has been kept in solitary confinement for almost 160 days.
During all that period he has been denied medical treatment despite being inflicted serious injuries by his captors in Dastgerd prison in the central city of Isfahan, Salehi’s uncle Iqbal Iqbali told IranWire.
Salehi’s cousin Shabnam Khosravi said that the family is demanding his immediate release because he “has not committed any crime that would warrant spending 157 days in solitary confinement pending trial."
Salehi has gained notoriety for lyrics that rail against corruption, widespread poverty and state executions in Iran. He was arrested on October 30 after releasing songs in support of the ongoing women-led protest movement and posting pictures and videos of himself during demonstrations.
The artist is facing charges that carry death sentences. No date has been set for the trial, his lawyer and family said.
Iqbali, who lives in Germany, told IranWire that Salehi’s left eye lost sight for some time, and he was unable to speak or eat for up to two weeks due to multiple blows to his head.
"His fingers and one leg were broken under brutal torture and need urgent treatment," he said.
“The interrogator insulted him, and Toomaj spat on the his face, and then the interrogator hit him so badly that his eye was seriously injured,” according to Iqbali.
Khosravi, who is based in France, said that the Salehi family lodged numerous complaints with the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding the rapper’s treatment.
"Toomaj is an artist, and it is the Islamic Republic that committed a crime against him by violating his human rights, including freedom of expression, and by keeping him in solitary confinement for more than five months," she said.
Iqbali said Salehi’s lawyer Amir Raisian will do everything in his power to help him, while pointing out that attorneys in Iran are “limited in what they can do.”
In such a context, the involvement of the international community and “the millions of young people in Iran who support Toomaj and other political prisoners is crucial to obtain his release," the uncle said.
Khosravi issued a similar plea, saying, "It is crucial that Tomaj's voice is heard across the world through the media and that Western politicians take action for his release, as his protest art represents the revolution for women's liberation," she told IranWire.
According to Iqbali and Khosravi, the judicial and security authorities accuse Salehi of several offences related to the release of his two songs "Turkmenchai" and "Fal."
In the song "Turkmenchai," Solahi criticizes the Islamic Republic's blackmail policies toward China and Russia.
In "Fal," which was released at the peak of the ongoing protests, the rapper warns Iran’s clerical leaders they are facing an uprising against their rule.