“Because of the banned girl who wished she’d been born a boy.” Shervin Hajipour
Coldplay: “We believe as a band that everybody should be able to be themselves, as long as you don’t hurt anybody else. So we fully send our love and support to all those brave young people fighting for freedom.”
Iran to hold public trials for up to 2,000 detained in protests, The country’s judiciary says those marching against the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini will be tried by Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic editor, 31 Oct 2022, The Guardian
… The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said he was shocked by the number of innocent protesters who were being illegally and violently arrested. Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, has already announced that she is to ask the European Union to sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation.
Canada meanwhile announced a fourth round of sanctions against senior Iranian officials and its law enforcement agents, which Canada accuses of participating in the suppression and arrest of unarmed protesters.
Ukraine has meanwhile formally asked for Iran’s football team to be banned from the World Cup starting next month in the wake of Iranian-manufactured drones being used by Russia to hit civilian and infrastructure targets inside Ukraine.
For the first time Iran has acknowledged there was a danger that it might find itself excluded from the World Cup, a move that would be a devastating blow to a country that adores football. The Iranian president, Ibrahim Raisi, said he would be contacting Qatar, the hosts of the tournament.
Ukraine said Iran – due to play England on 21 November – “is guilty of systematic violations of human rights, which probably violates the Fifa Charter”.
The Shakhtar Donetsk CEO Sergei Palkin called for Iran to be replaced by Ukraine at this year’s tournament. “While the Iranian leadership will have fun watching their national team play at the World Cup, Ukrainians will be killed by Iranian drones and Iranian missiles,” he said on Twitter.
The latest signs of external support for the Iranian protests led by women and students came as sit-ins continued in universities and more than 500 civilian journalists put their names to an internal petition demanding that reporters who helped break the story of Mahsa Amini be released from detention.
In a sign of the justice being handed out, Mohammad Ghobadlo, a protester who was arrested on the charge of “corruption on earth” after participating in an anti-government rally, was sentenced to death after just one hearing, his mother said on Monday.
“My son is only 22 years old and he is also ill. They deprived him of having a lawyer and do not allow lawyers to enter the court,” Ghobadlo’s mother said in a clip published online. Compare to the ultra special privileges endlessly handed out by our courts to the Canadian law-violating Nazi and Confederate flag waving convoyers (which I call Fucker Truckers – because most of the offenders were not even real truckers, instead were rented, threatening to kill killing our Prime Minister and take over the federal gov’t) that abused residents and health care workers for weeks, with police, Doug Ford and other con politicians like Pierre Poilievre not only enabling but flaming them.
“They interrogated him without having access to a lawyer, and sentenced him to death after only one hearing. Is this Islamic justice? In which court of law do they sentence people to death after just one hearing? They are going to execute him soon. I ask people to help,” she added in the video.
Security services have unleashed a fierce crackdown on the mainly peaceful protests, in which at least 253 people have been killed, including 34 Iranians under 18, according to one human rights organisation. Several thousand people have been arrested, many of whom were taken to special IRGC detention centres.
The Iranian elite nevertheless remains divided between those who want to treat the protests solely as the product of a well-laid foreign conspiracy best brought to a halt by repression, and those who say the disturbances, now in their sixth week, reveal deep problems in Iranian society, including an untrusted and muzzled official media that leaves young Iranians dependent on western satellite channels.
The former foreign minister Javad Zarif appeared to side with those calling for talks, saying opponents of dialogue, regardless of their disguise or slogan, seemed to prefer violence.
The main state news agency IRNA reported that 1,000 detained protesters had played a “central role” in the unrest. Each is due to be tried alone for “subversive actions”, including assaulting security guards, setting fire to public property and other charges.
“Those who intend to confront and subvert the regime are dependent on foreigners and will be punished according to legal standards,” said Iran’s judiciary chief, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei, indicating that some protesters would be charged with collaborating with foreign governments.
Ejei claimed that prosecutors sought to differentiate between angry Iranians – who merely sought to vent their grievances on the streets – and those who wanted to take down the Islamic Republic. “Even among the agitators, it should be clarified as to who had the intention of confronting the system and overthrowing it,” he said.
Iran’s government is also having to confront the fallout from a round of trials, funerals and 40th day commemorations as the death toll mounts. Apart from the two journalists arrested, attention focused on Monday on Hassan Ronagi, Hossein Ronagi’s brother, who said that after 41 days, his parents were finally allowed to meet Hossein in prison. He says Hossein was still on hunger strike and “was not well”. Ronagi was dragged into a police car soon after the protests started.
Coldplay perform Iranian protest song Baraye by arrested singer, British band joined on stage by exiled actor Golshifteh Farahani to sing protest song by Shervin Hajipour as Buenos Aires concert broadcast in 81 countries by Oliver Holmes, Oct 31, 2022, The Guardian
An Iranian protest anthem that has become the soundtrack to the national uprising was again thrust into the international spotlight over the weekend when Coldplay performed a cover and broadcast it live around the world.
The British band played the song, Baraye, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Friday and Saturday night at the start of their world tour, with the exiled Iranian actor Golshifteh Farahani on stage and singing in Farsi.
Friday’s concert was streamed via satellite to cinemas in 81 countries, although not in Iran, where playing or singing the song could lead to arrest.
Baraye, which means “For …” or “Because of …”, was written by one of Iran’s most popular musicians, Shervin Hajipour, with verses taken from 31 messages that citizens had posted online sharing their individual misery, pain and grief.
Hajipour sings lyrics including “for dancing in the streets”, “for every time we were afraid to kiss our lovers” and “for women, life and freedom” – a chant used frequently at protests.
Days after the song was released and went viral, the 25-year-old was arrested and his song deleted from Instagram. He has since been released on bail but has gone silent.
However, his music had been widely shared, with other videos showing Baraye being sung by Iranian schoolgirls, blaring from car windows in Tehran and playing at solidarity protests around the world. It has received tens of thousands of submissions for a Grammy award that honours music dedicated to social change.
Iran has been gripped by protests since the death in custody on 16 September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old of Kurdish origin who was arrested in Tehran by the “morality police” over her headscarf. Amini was allegedly beaten, taken to hospital in a coma and later died.
Since then, protests led by women have been met with violence by authorities, with at least 270 people dead and 14,000 arrested, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran.
Now in their seventh week, the rallies have become a full-blown student uprising against the regime that shows no sign of ending.
At Saturday’s concert, Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin told the audience that in Iran “young women and young people are fighting for their freedom, for the right to be themselves”.
After inviting Farahani on stage, he told fans: “You may not know this song but we’ve got to give it everything because we’re going to send this with love from here to Iran.”
During the performance, Hajipour’s original video of him singing the song was broadcast above the stage.
Footage of the concert has been widely shared by Iranians on social media, although government restrictions on the internet make it difficult to verify accounts inside the country.
“Because of Freedom.”
Hajipour, 25, was reportedly arrested on 29 September, days after the song was released. According to messages posted on Twitter by Hajipour’s sister and reverified by Human Rights Watch, the intelligence services in Mazandaran province called Hajipour’s parents and informed them of his arrest on 1 October.
On Tuesday a state prosecutor in Mazandaran told state news agency IRNA that Hajipour had been released on bail “so that his case can go through the legal process” but gave no further details.
Sources close to Hajipour believe the singer was made to remove the song from Instagram when he was arrested. It has since been registered as having been written by someone else, allowing copyright infringement complaints to be made, resulting in the song being removed by platforms it had been uploaded to. However, the song has already been widely shared and continues to be uploaded by users on YouTube.
“This [song] has broken Persian social media tonight. So many of us have cried listening to it over and over. The artist Shervin Hajipour has summed up the deep national sadness and pain Iranians have been feeling for decades, culminating in the tragedy of #MahsaAmini,” BBC correspondent Bahman Kalbasi said.
“The single best way to understand Iran’s uprising is not any book or essay, but Shervin Hajipour’s ‘Baraye’,” wrote Karim Sadjadpour, of thinktank Carnegie Endowment. “Its profundity requires multiple views.”
A campaign is under way calling on the public to nominate the song for a Grammy in the best song for social change category.
In the song, Hajipour sings lyrics such as, “For dancing in the streets, for kissing loved ones” and “for women, life, freedom”, a chant synonymous with the wave of protests following Amini’s death.
Amini was travelling with her family from Iran’s western province of Kurdistan to the capital, Tehran, on 13 September to visit relatives when she was arrested for failing to meet the country’s strict rules on women’s dress. Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van, an allegation the police deny. Amini, 22, was taken to hospital in a coma and died two days later.
But the lyrics to Baraye reflect widespread anger and misery, just as Amini’s death was the tipping point for many after the regime engaged in a concerted crackdown on alleged anti-Islamic activity. Enforcement has included the heightened presence of guidance patrol – also known as morality police – on the streets.
Sadjadpour said: “No matter what happens to the protests it’s worth noting the most viral song in Iran’s history, likely to be remembered for decades to come, isn’t about resistance to America or Israel or anywhere else. It’s a song about Iranian dreams for a normal life.”