- 05 Oct 22
Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour was reportedly arrested on September 29, days after the protest song 'Baraye' was released and went viral.
A protest song by one of Iran’s most popular musicians has become the soundtrack to the biggest civil uprising for decades, with news breaking last week that Shervin Hajipour has since been arrested.
The 25-year-old artist was taken into custody by police officers in Tehran, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda reported on September 29. His current whereabouts remain unknown, and it's also unclear what, if any, charges were brought against him.
Before it was removed from the social media platform on the same day, Hajipur’s protest song 'Baraye' had garnered more than 40 million views. The protest track was posted on Instagram, written about the anti-government protests raging across Iran.
Shervin Hajipour the singer of the mega hit song which used people’s comments with #Mahsa_Amini’s hashtag in Farsi(#مهسا_امینی), got arrested by security forces & his video is deleted from his account#مهسا_امینی been tweeted more than 153 million times
— Sima Sabet | سیما ثابت (@Sima_Sabet) September 29, 2022
As demonstrations against the death of Mahsa Amini enter their third week, 'Baraye' become the soundtrack to the biggest civil uprising for decades, channelling the rage of Iranians at home and abroad.
The lyrics to Shervin Hajipour's song are taken entirely from messages that Iranians have posted online about why they are protesting. Each begins with the word 'Baraye' – meaning “For …” or “Because of …” in Farsi.
Videos online have shown the song being sung by schoolgirls in Iran, blared from car windows in Tehran and played at solidarity protests in Washington, Strasbourg and London this weekend.
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.
A state prosecutor in Mazandaran later 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 are claiming that 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. The song has already been widely shared and continues to be uploaded by users on YouTube.
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 Mahsa Amini’s death.
Amini was travelling with her family from Iran’s western province of Kurdistan to the capital, Tehran, on September 13 to visit relatives when she was arrested for failing to meet the country’s strict morality rules on women’s dress. Witnesses reported that Amini was beaten in the police van, with blood reportedly coming out of her ear and the side of her head. The 22-year-old, was taken to hospital in a coma and died two days later, sparking waves of protests against the Iranian government's strict laws for women.
Amini’s death was the tipping point for many after the regime engaged in a concerted crackdown on alleged anti-Islamic activity.
A campaign is under way calling on the public to nominate the song for a Grammy in the best song for social change category.
Iranian football player Hossein Mahini was also arrested after expressing his support for the protests online, as was poet Mona Borzoi after she wrote a poem in support of the protests. Hrana, an Iranian human rights news agency, have verified those claims.
In a statement, Norway-based group Iran Human Rights said “so far, 133 people had been killed across Iran”, including more than 40 people who it said died in clashes last week in Zahedan in the south-eastern Sistan-Baluchistan province.
Amnesty International Ireland have now responded to the arrest of Shervin Hajipour, condemning the popular musician's arrest.
“His being detained for the simple act of writing a song underlines the Iranian authorities' blatant disregard for the rights of its citizens," Fiona Crowley, interim director of Human Rights at Amnesty International Ireland, commented to Hot Press. "The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right, which the Iranian authorities are trampling on with impunity.
“Our ongoing investigations have shown Iran’s highest military body have instructed the commanders of armed forces in all provinces to 'severely confront' protesters," Crowley added.
"They are deliberately deciding to harm and even kill people who have taken to the streets to express their anger at decades of repression and injustice. Without determined collective action by the international community, countless more face being killed, maimed, tortured, sexually assaulted or thrown behind bars solely for their participation in protests. We need action beyond mere statements of condemnation.
"We see the images of Iranian people from across the country bravely standing up to security forces. The voices of the courageous people of Iran desperately crying out for international support must not be ignored. Iran's discriminatory laws, decades of repression of any form of dissent and systemic impunity for unlawful treatment of protestors have triggered this unprecedented nationwide outrage.
“An independent investigative and accountability mechanism must be established by the UN Human Rights Council," the interim director concluded. "People in Iran deserve more than empty words. The crisis of systemic impunity that has long prevailed in the country must end, and it must end now."
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