February 28, 2023
Dear Madame First Lady Dr. Jill Biden,
In the United States, rappers raise awareness to many significant cultural issues all while evoking countless emotions. They use the power of music to express their message and be the voice of people.
Today, in the depths of Isfahan’s prison in Iran, underground dissident rapper Toomaj Salehi, alongside millions of fans, calls for your help. He is a 32-year-old young man, passionate, and boundless lover of freedom. Toomaj Salehi was slammed with “corruption on earth” by the Iranian Revolutionary Guardian Council (IRGC) and was violently arrested at his home in southwestern Tran (province of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari ) on October 30, 2022.
Using his voice for the voiceless. Using his voice to fight for freedom. Using his voice to fight for human rights and injustice.
Toomaj is being tortured for expressing himself through music. His lyrics tell the truth of society: “If you see the injustice and pain of the people and remain indifferent, you are also guilty”, “Someone’s crime was that her hair was flowing in the wind. Someone’s crime was that he or she was brave and outspoken.” In face of the oppression and brutality from the Islamic Regime, he is still inspired by peoples’ ability to love, unite and yearn for peace.
Like his lyrics, Toomaj couldn’t remain silent when millions of Iranians in Iran and in the diaspora protested in the days following the murder of the 22-years-old Mahsa Amini on September 16th, 2022 by the morality police.
Dr. Jill Biden, on February 6th, you presented the first award for “best song for Social change” at the 65th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. The recipient, as you know, is an Iranian artist, Shervin Hajipour, whose song “Baraye” became the chorus, the anthem of the Woman Life Freedom movement in Iran, the world’s first ever women-led revolution. We need you to help amplify his voice, just as you helped amplify Shervin and his monumental song.
Toomaj has been in solitary confinement for 122 days and his life is in danger. His condition is dire, and he could be executed any days for « corruption on earth ». According to the United Nations, solitary confinement for more that 15 consecutive days is regarded as a form of torture.
Dr. Jill Biden, as you mentioned when announcing and honoring “Baraye” at the 65th annual Grammy Award Ceremony, “One song can help unite, inspire and ultimately change the world.” Now, imagine how much one man can also help unite, inspire, and ultimately change a nation.
I plead that you be on the right side of history and act on behalf of Toomaj’s dire state of health. Toomaj must be released by the Iranian authorities, and we invite you and all the international community to demand his release from the Iranian authorities.
We have asked the support of Mrs. Macron, the first lady of France, political leaders, and the music industry.
To rappers and artists around the world, we send a simple message be the voice of Toomaj. In the name of women, life, freedom and the values of hip-hop.
Today, we are all Toomaj.
I thank you for your kind attention in this matter and greatly look forward to your correspondence.
With sincere hope and admiration,
Shabnam Khosravi, Toomaj Salehi’s Cousin, Engineer
Michel Taube, Engineer and Founder of Opinion Internationale, of the campaign « Together FOR the Revolution Woman Life Freedom in Iran » and the organization Together against the death penalty
Copy of the Open Letter is adressed to :
In the United States:
Antony Blinken Secretary of State
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Lucian Grainge, CEO of Universal Music Group
Tammy Hurt, Grammy Academy Awards’ Chair
Rima Abdul Malak, Minister of Culture of the French Republic
Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Bruno Studer, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Education of the National Assembly
Laurent Lafon, Senator and Chairman of the Committee on Culture, Education and Communication of the French Senate