Songs of Freedom for Iran

Iran Activism
by Emily Hanssen Arent Jun 12, 2012
Three years ago today, the streets of Tehran erupted with the largest public protests since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

TO MARK THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of Iran’s Movement for Freedom, Human Rights, and Democracy (IMFHD), United4Iran has released a free, downloadable CD called Azadi: Songs of Freedom for Iran.

The CD features songs of solidarity written by exiled Iranians, as well as musicians from Egypt, Libya, Palestine, and South Africa, nations that have been or are currently embroiled in popular movements for political change and human rights. Sarah Shourd, one of the American hikers who was imprisoned for espionage in Tehran in 2009 and released in 2010, has also contributed a song in solidarity.

On June 12, 2009, Iranian citizens went to the ballot box to vote for the next Iranian President, and it was largely anticipated that Ahmadinejad would be succeeded by a more moderate candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi. When it was announced that Ahmadinejad had garnered an unbelievably high majority in what is widely considered to be a fraudulent election, angry citizens moved to the streets in protest, marking the beginning of Iran’s Movement for Freedom, Human Rights, and Democracy.

Protesters clashed with Iranian police forces in a struggle that has since become a symbol of the brutality of Ahmadinejad’s regime. A number of protesters and innocent bystanders were slaughtered in the streets, including Neda Agha-Soltan, a music student who claimed no involvement in the protests but was murdered by police forces during her drive home from music class. Her name means “voice” in Persian, and her death quickly became a rallying point for IMFHD.

Nearly three years later, little has changed. Iran still has one of the world’s highest execution rates, and also takes the prize for the highest number of imprisoned journalists and activists.

Sarah Shourd is too familiar with Iran’s imprisonment policies. She was arrested with her friend, Josh Fattal, and her fiancé, Shane Bauer, during a hike along Iraq’s border with Iran in July 2009. The three were convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in Iran’s Evin Prison. Sarah was released on bail a year after her conviction in 2010, while Josh and Shane were released in September of 2011.

Impassioned by her experience, Sarah now writes a blog for the Huffington Post covering human rights abuses in Iran. She is also an outspoken Grassroots Organizer for United4Iran, and recently wrote that she’s honored to have her “music featured alongside songs by imprisoned Iranian activist Bahareh Hedayat, Libyan guitarist and activist Masoud Bwisri, and Salome MC, Iran’s first female rapper.”

To show solidarity with people struggling in Iran today, please check out Azadi: Songs of Freedom for Iran.

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