Iranian Singer Arya Aramnejad Still in Prison
Iranian singer-songwriter Arya Aramnejad was arrested in his home on November 8, 2011. This was the second time Aramenjad was arrested and imprisoned for “seditious activities” relating to a song he composed and released in 2009. Three months after his second arrest he remains in custody.
Twenty-eight year-old Aramnejad, an outspoken supporter of Iran’s democratic Green Movement, composed the song “Ali Barkhiz” (Ali, Rise Up) after violent demonstrations in Tehran on December 27, 2009.
Also known as Ashura, December 27 marks a holy day that commemorates the death of Muslim religious leader Imam Hussein. Despite traditional ceasefire agreements on religious holidays, security forces fired on protesters who were also mourning the death of the reform movement’s spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, and disputing the results of the 2009 Iranian presidential elections. At least ten were killed and thousands were arrested in the clash.
Intelligence officials first arrested Aramnejad on February 15, 2010 after the song was released. Aramnejad said officials told him the song “Ali, Rise Up” was “endangering national security.” After spending fifty days in solitary confinement, he was sentenced to nine months in prison. In his courtroom testimony, he reported being subjected to physical and psychological tortures and denied medical care. Aramenjad further stated that the Iranian constitution, “gives me the right to criticize…it gives me the right to free speech and free thought. And because of this constitution that our fathers voted for, I am free not to be indifferent to the destiny of my country. Interestingly, instead of being commended, I have to stand trial today for this.”
After appearing in a court of appeals to hear the ruling on his case, Aramnejad, who was released on bail, was arrested a second time. In an interview with the Iranian website Kalme.com, Aramnejad’s wife, Adeleh Ziyai, reported that five plainclothes officers handcuffed Aramnejad outside the residence and forced him to open the door. Although they did not have a warrant for his wife’s belongings, the agents stole both Aramnejad and his wife’s computer, CDs, and writings.
Ziyai said Aramnejad’s arrest warrant stated “‘The accused is a singer for the seditious [Green] movement and was arrested for releasing his song “Ali, Rise Up” after Ashura in 2009. Upon his release on bail, the accused continued with his seditious activities.’”
In the interview Ziyai questioned the “seditious” nature of her husband’s songs, stating:
Are my husband’s songs “ anything but an honest commitment to the silent pain of an awakened nation? In which one of his songs has Arya ever lied or stated an mistruth? In which one of his songs has he put the security of his country or compatriots in danger?… Shame on us for treating our artists so unfairly and violating their rights when they are guilty of nothing more than solidarity with their nation and a having an endless sense of responsibility, honesty, and integrity.
Ziyai spoke to her husband one time after his detainment and has only once been allowed to visit him in prison
Listen and watch “Ali, Rise Up” with English subtitles: