Speaking with reporters in Ottawa are ICJ members Nazanin Afshin-Jam MacKay (co-founder) and Tara Dachek, as well as Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, Liberal MP Ali Ehsassi and NDP MP Heather McPherson.

Toomaj Sanctions Pass Unanimously in Canadian Parliament

Monday, 06/17/2024

The Canadian parliament, across all three main party platforms, has unanimously passed the Toomaj Sanctions, related to the death sentence issued for a dissident Iranian rapper.

The motion, proposed by the Iranian Justice Collective (IJC), sanctions 31 judicial officials involved in the death sentence of rapper Toomaj Salehi.

The IJC compiled the names of 31 judges, prosecutors and investigators of the Islamic Revolutionary Court across its 70 branches, including the judge who sentenced Toomaj Salehi to death, to be added to the existing list of sanctioned Islamic Republic officials.

Monday morning members of the IJC Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Tara Dachek joined Senator Julie Miville-Dechêne, and MPs Ali Ehsasi and Heather McPherson in Ottawa to present the motion before the vote.

Toomaj, a beloved dissident rapper, was sentenced to death for his lyrics criticizing the Islamic Republic. The artist and his song became popular in 2022 during nationwide anti-government protests in Iran.

He was initially arrested in October 2022 for his support of the Woman- Life- Freedom movement.

After his release, Toomaj described being "severely tortured" during his time in prison. Just two weeks after his release, he was arrested again in late 2023, and charged with "corruption on earth" - a crime punishable by death.

Speaking in Ottawa Monday, human rights activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam asked people to imagine if Canadian rapper Drake was sentenced to death simply for his lyrics.

"Canadians would be outraged," she said, "And that's the horror Iranians feel."

"He [Toomaj] was tortured. He had his legs and arms broken and they injected him with unknown substances while he was in detainment in the prison cells in Iran to to extract false confessions," said Afshin-Jam.

Fellow IJC member Tara Dachek knows the struggles the Iranian people face living under a repressive regime. She came to Canada just five years ago to escape the authoritarian laws that Amnesty International has labelled a "war on women and girls" and as a "gender apartheid" state.

"His bravery inspired me so deeply. Imagine knowing that rapping is illegal in Iran, yet choosing to use your legal name and voice to fight against one of the most brutal regimes in the world," said Dachek.

Dachek described Toomaj's voice and his rap music as his only weapon, and she vowed to be his voice now.

Toomaj sanctions in Canada follow the Toomaj Act in the United States last month, which passed a bipartisan act calling also for targeted sanctions for certain judges, prosecutors, and investigators of across branches of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts of Iran. It also codified the position of the United States that judgments issued by Islamic Revolutionary Courts against political prisoners are a violation of human rights.

The Canadian motion, spearheaded by NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Heather McPherson also condemns gender apartheid, violations of civil liberties, killings and acts of violence committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran against its own people.

More News