The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) announced the winners of the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissidence 2024, among whom is the imprisoned Iranian rapper facing a death sentence, Toomaj Salehi.

The winners of this year’s Havel Prize will be recognized during a ceremony this Tuesday 4 June, at the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) 2024 in Oslo, Norway.

Negin Niknaam, a friend and leading advocate for Salehi’s freedom and admin of Toomaj Salehi’s social media pages, will accept the award on his behalf. Speaking to Iran International English on Sunday on her way to Oslo ahead of the event, Niknam stated:

“I am attending the event with a heavy heart as Toomaj remains behind cold prison bars, but a deep sense of pride for his resilience and art. This award validates Toomaj’s fight for freedom of speech and expression, further highlighting the ongoing plight of Iranians held hostage by the Islamic Republic.”

In his music, Salehi advocates for justice and human rights in Iran in protest of the suppression of the Iranian people. At the peak of Iran’s nationwide Woman, Life, Freedom uprising sparked by the killing of Mahsa Amini in morality police’s custody, Salehi released a song in support of the Iranian people.

The song was titled “Divination” with the lyrics, “Someone has lost their young child and someone has lost their youth… Someone was dying before the execution of justice… Someone’s crime was, dancing with her hair in the wind.” It reflected the brutality of Iranian authorities in their crackdown on the protests, which resulted in the killing of at least 500 protestors and over 20,000 detained including Toomaj himself.

In addition to Salehi, Uyghur poet and activist Tahir Hamut Izgil, and Venezuelan pianist and recording artist Gabriela Montero are amongst this year’s Havel Prize winners.

“Every year, the Havel Prize celebrates individuals who, with courage and creativity, unmask tyranny and embody the concept of ‘Living in Truth,’ as relevant today as when it was articulated by Václav Havel almost 45 years ago. Their work stands as a testament to extraordinary bravery and ingenuity,” HRF Founder Thor Halvorssen said in a statement.

Source » iranintl