Jailed Iranian Rapper Reportedly Attempts Suicide


Jailed Iranian dissident rapper Saman Yasin Seydi, who was sentenced to death last month, has attempted suicide in prison, an informed source has told RFE/RL's Radio Farda.

Saman Yasin, who is in the Rajaei-Shahr prison near the Iranian capital of Tehran, tried to take his own life on the evening of December 20 by taking a large number of pills, the source said, adding that the rapper was returned to his prison ward after leaving the prison hospital, where he had his stomach pumped.

A rapper from Kermanshah Province -- a northwestern region with a significant Kurdish population and which has been a focus of the government crackdown -- has been accused of acting against the country's security and "waging war against God." He was sentenced to death on November 7.

The source told Radio Farda that the 24-year-old rapper was denied the right to a lawyer during his interrogation and court sessions, and that the court forced him to accept a public defender.

Iran's judiciary often forces such a scenario, as public defenders rarely have enough time to prepare for a case while some have been known to take the state's side.

The Kurdistan Human Rights Network has said that since his arrest, Saman Yasin has been subjected to "severe" physical and mental torture, including being kept in solitary confinement, being kept in a morgue, being severely abused and thrown from a height, and being forced to make confessions under the pressure of security interrogators.

At least 12 men have been sentenced to death in Iran without due process, according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran. Another 25 face charges that could carry the death penalty.

Carlos Kasper, a member of the German federal parliament and a political sponsor of Saman Yasin, wrote on Twitter that he was "shocked" at the news of the artist's suicide attempt.

"The suicide attempt was prompted by the inhumane prison conditions! This has to stop! I demand his immediate release from prison and access to adequate medical support," Casper added.

Since the death of Mahsa Amini after she was detained for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly, Iranians have flooded the streets across the country to protest a lack of rights, with women and schoolgirls making unprecedented shows of support in the biggest threat to the Islamic government since the 1979 revolution.

Last month, 227 lawmakers from the 290-seat parliament led by hard-liners urged the judiciary to approve death sentences for some protesters arrested amid the recent wave of demonstrations.

Two public executions have already taken place, according to the authorities, and rights groups say many others have been handed death sentences, while at least two dozen others face charges that could carry the death penalty.

The activist HRANA news agency said that, as of December 13, at least 431 protesters had been killed during the unrest, including 68 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

The Oslo-based Iran Human Rights Organization says the number of executions in Iran has exceeded 500 this year.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda