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September 22 2021

Policy Briefs

Iranian Poet Sheydaye Hamedani Detained

Ghasem Bahrami known by his artist name Sheydaye Hamedani is an Iranian poet who was jailed for his outspoken opposition to the Islamic Regime, its corruption and its inhumane treatment of the Iranian people. From inside Iran, he used his poetry as a tool to denounce the regime and raise awareness on the status of Iranians living under the regime.

In one video shared widely on social media, for example, Hamedani can be seen burning the photo of the leader of the Islamic Regime, Ali Khamenei, while reciting one of his poems: “Burn, you shameless man! I swear by the blood of those you have killed, may the people burn you, you spirit of Satan. You said our Kings were symbols of oppression and tyranny, but you’re more dishonorable than our worst King.” 

Hamedani was arrested for his explicit dissidence on Wednesday, September 15th in his home in Mashhad. Hamedani shared many of his poems on social media but many believe one of the main causes of his arrest is a poem he recited for Empress Farah Pahlavi: “We turned our days black as their turbans and hearts… We broke the heart of our King…The world was full of kings, but you were the King of Kings and you were the greatest of them. A message for our dear Empress, forgive us dear mother. We swear on our honor, on Iran, we will fix this mistake.” 

Upon news of his arrest, Empress Farah responded with this message of encouragement and hope: “I am thankful for his kindness and eagerly await his freedom from the clutches of this regime which despises art and culture. In all of these years our artists, despite all the arrests, have never been silenced. I know light will triumph over darkness.”

Since prisoners in Iran are deprived of due process and any humane treatment, Hamedani’s life may be a grave danger. Hamedani’s arrest coincided with that of rapper Toomaj Salehi which led to the hashtag #ReleaseIranianArtists trending on Persian-language social media. While Toomaj, who NUFDI wrote about here, has been released Hamedani remains in prison.

Hamedani used his platform as an artist to call out the social ills of Iranians under the Islamic Republic including the regime’s massacre of Iranians by banning the COVD-19 vaccine. He called on Iranians to join together, for their honor and for their country, to end the Islamic Republic.

Hamedani’s case has received comparably much less attention in the Persian language and international media but his classic art of Persian poetry has won him many fans among Iranians campaigning for his release from the regime and calling on others to join them.