March 28, 2024

“Here’s to mighty and better days, with hopes for a brighter future" - Toomaj Nowruz Greeting

March 28, 2024
In an Instagram video, rows of trees were planted by supporters of Toomaj, with demands for his freedom attached.  @ToomajOfficial post
In an Instagram video, rows of trees were planted by supporters of Toomaj, with demands for his freedom attached.  @ToomajOfficial post

Persian New Year, “New Day” (Nowruz), began this past week on the spring equinox. A traditional part of the 13-day celebration is the exchange of greetings and wishes for the coming year. A number of Iran’s political prisoners, including Toomaj Salehi, were able to send inspiring Nowruz greetings from behind bars that supporters posted on social media.

In his message, posted March 19 by @ToomajOfficial, Toomaj continues to emphasize the importance of the global support for him (and all Iran’s political prisoners) in his issuance of these courageous dispatches from behind Iran’s prison walls. Notably, he calls on all to carry forward the seeds of hope in the historic Woman, Life, Freedom uprising of 2022. His insistence to stand up against women’s oppression is precious in the world today. His messages help answer those who ask, “what can we do from here?” to impact the situation of Toomaj and other prisoners in Iran from afar. He wrote:

Here, in my heart, I feel the warmth of the hands that planted trees in my name, that wrote on the walls of cities to keep my memory alive. Even now, I am warmed by the voices of those who celebrated my birthday on the Yalda [winter] solstice. Because you did not leave me alone, I am not alone in here. I am here, but with you.
Here’s to mighty and better days, with hopes for a future that is brighter than the years that are behind us. With a smile of pride and courage, I am still with you in resistance, as I celebrate this Nowruz a bit early. May your Nowruz be glorious!
Long Live the 552 days of glorious resistance in the Woman, Life, Freedom revolution! [1]
~Toomaj Salehi, Isfahan, Dastgerd Prison (translated from Farsi by IEC volunteers)

For more on the significance of the fight to free Toomaj Salehi, how it concentrates the fierce struggle to free ALL of Iran’s political prisoners, read and share IEC’s #FreeToomaj Resources page.[2]

[1] When people speak of the “Woman, Life, Freedom revolution” as Toomaj does here, they do so with many divergent understandings of what “revolution” is. While we do not know what Toomaj meant by “revolution” here, we think that examination and discussion of the different paths forward is urgent for the people of Iran, in that region (e.g., Gaza) and worldwide. A defined view and program for a revolution in Iran is set out by the CPIMLM (Communist Party of Iran, Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) such as in its September 2022 Communiqué, “The Burial of the Compulsory Hijab, the Burial of the Integration of Religion with the State Has Begun! Let's Finish It!” Read it in English here and in Farsi here.

[2] According to his lawyer, Toomaj appeared in court via video on March 16, 2024 on new trumped-up charges of “encouraging acts of violence” online and “spreading lies.” He had been kidnapped and held incognito by the state in October 2022 at the height of the Woman, Life, Freedom uprising which he defiantly supported in the streets and in his powerful lyrical rap. For this political activity, he was sentenced in July 2023 to six years and three months in prison. He was released on bail on November 18, 2023 based on an appeal that showed “flaws in the original sentence.” Less than two weeks later, he was violently rearrested shortly after releasing a video in which he exposed his brutal torture in prison by the authorities—this being the basis for the charge against him for “spreading lies.” He has been imprisoned since.  

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