Death of Mahsa Amini: Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour freed but silenced

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Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour, author of a song that has become the anthem of demonstrators protesting against the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, was released on Tuesday after being detained for several days by the Iranian authorities. Since then, the young man has expressed remarks condemning the “political misuse of the song” – statements probably made under duress. His song continues to resonate across the country despite the pressures.

Covered in schoolyards, broadcast clandestinely in a shopping center, at night through the windows of buildings in Iranian residential neighborhoods… Many videos relayed on social networks show the song of the Iranian Shervin Hajipour, taken up through I’Iran.

His track “Baraye” has become the unofficial anthem of the protest movement triggered by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini September 16. Within days, the track posted on the singer’s Instagram page reached nearly 40 million views before being deleted when Shervin Hajipour was arrested last week in northern Iran.

But the young man has since been released on Tuesday, October 4, on bail. But he distanced himself from political life, presumably a condition for his release.

“Baraye”, which means “Because of” in Persian, compiles tweets about the protests and lists the reasons that prompted Iranians to demonstrate after the death of Mahsa Amini. It also highlights the population’s concerns about the shortages caused by the economic sanctions imposed on Iran, their management by the country’s authorities, pollution, the arrests of intellectuals…

“For the dance in the street / Because of the fear felt while kissing / For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song goes. “Because of the embarrassment of having empty pockets / Because we long for a normal life / Because of this polluted air.”

“Baraye” sung by Iranian schoolgirls

Last weekend, the song was also sung by Iranians in the diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world.

In Iran, the song was sung in schoolyards. In a video shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves can be seen singing “Baraye” in class, with their backs to the camera.

The song was removed from Shervin Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest, but is still widely available on social media, including Twitter and YouTube.

“Baraye” has also inspired many covers around the world, by anonymous people in South Korea, or by Jerusalem Post columnist Emily Schrader, who said she learned the song in Persian and filmed herself on Instagram performing it, garnering over 650,000 views.

“Forced Instagram Stories”

The singer’s lawyer, Majid Kaveh, said he was released on October 4 at noon. His family had been informed on 1er October of his arrest in Sari, in the north of the country, said the reformist newspaper Shargh in articles quoting his sister, Kamand Hajipour.

In a post on Instagram, the latter said that her parents had been informed of her arrest by telephone by the services of the Ministry of Intelligence of the city.

Shortly after his release, Shervin Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologize and distance himself from political life. “I’m here to stay, I’m fine,” he told his 1.9 million subscribers. “But I am sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran, with which I have no connection, have made political misuse of the song (…) I would not trade my country for any other and I I will stay for my country, my flag, my people, and I will sing,” he added.

Shervin Hajipour’s Instagram post after his release on October 4, 2022. © Instagram @shervinine

In response to the post, many Twitter users offered to add “Because of forced Instagram stories” to the song’s lyrics, suggesting that the young singer posted it under duress.

Human rights organizations, including Article 19, have repeatedly called on Iran to stop using coerced confessions, which they say were obtained under duress or even torture.

Recently, a young Iranian poet, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared in Tehran after being involved in an argument with another woman who accused her of removing her veil on a bus. She was detained by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television, with an eye injury, engaging in what activists said was a forced confession. Sepideh Rashno was then released on bail at the end of August.

With AFP

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Death of Mahsa Amini: Iranian singer Shervin Hajipour freed but silenced

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