‘Lady, life, freedom!’: British live performance reveals solidarity with ladies in Iran amid rising dying toll | Music

“The state of affairs in Iran is like nothing we’ve ever seen earlier than,” says Hesam Garshasbi, a music journalist, promoter and activist who moved from Tehran to London throughout the 2020 rebellion.

Over the past 9 weeks, protests have erupted in Iran following the death of the 22-year-old Mahsa Amina in police custody for allegedly breaching strict costume guidelines for girls.

In contrast to earlier actions, demonstrations have taken place nationwide, with folks from a spread of social lessons and age teams taking to the streets to defend the liberty of ladies and women. College women have eliminated their hijabs in public and college college students in northern Iran have reportedly removed law-enforced gender segregation barriers of their cafeteria. In the meantime, “Women, life, freedom” has been chanted within the face of violence, arrests and a rising dying toll.

This night, a lineup of artists, poets and activists will carry out on the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall to make clear the continued occasions and to point out solidarity with ladies in Iran.

Lianne La Havas, Kelsey Lu and the London Up to date Orchestra will likely be joined by musicians with connections to Iran and the diaspora, together with Faramarz Aslani, Lafawndah and Golnar Shahyar.

“We face a number of anxiousness proper now,” says Garshasbi, who co-organised the London occasion alongside fellow promoter Adib Rostami. “Being collectively as a group helps: seeing one another, speaking with one another, singing with one another. This live performance will collect the Iranian group with non-Iranian pals who’ve sympathy with the matter. It helps them to be heard.”

Utilizing efficiency as a device for pushing change made sense to Garshasbi, whose relationship to his motherland has all the time been linked to music and resistance. With genres similar to rock, rap and EDM banned, he has organised unofficial underground music competitions to rejoice the sounds forbidden in Tehran.

However the significance of music is shared by Iranian folks, he says: “Music is unifying, uplifting and therapeutic. Its worth is important to most cultures, however for Iranians it’s additionally loaded with large quantities of symbolism and that means, as a result of it’s been so closely restricted by the Islamic republic for therefore a few years. So for us, simply taking part in music or holding an instrument can really feel like an act of resistance.”

In addition to the ban on sure genres and kinds of music, ladies are prohibited from singing in public in Iran. “This live performance is an opportunity for these ladies to be heard, as a result of they by no means had this sort of platform again there,” he continues. “After all, we’d not have the ability to organise this sort of factor in Iran. However right here, it’s a risk.”

‘I’m a political artist, it’s a part of my id’ … Kurdish musician Sakina Teyna. {Photograph}: Derya Schubert Gülcehre

Composer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Shahyar needed to go away her native Iran seven years in the past so as to safely pursue her profession in music. Now based mostly in Vienna, she nonetheless delivers her songs in farsi and explores political and social themes, together with ladies’s rights and her personal experiences. “I make a private interpretation of what I perceive as music. I combine a variety of completely different kinds and create my very own world of sounds,” she says. “However my work is all the time associated to Iran as a result of I exploit a variety of the musical vocabulary from there. I’ve stored the connection to the nation very robust.”

Collaborating within the occasion is a method for Shahyar to channel her rage and generational trauma into one thing optimistic. “I really feel overwhelmed. I’ve all the time been singing about my state of affairs in Iran, however that is the second. Every little thing is coming into its place,” she says. “I hope it’ll push the trigger ahead as a result of it must be talked about. Change received’t occur tomorrow, so we have to maintain it going; we have to maintain this vitality, this consideration, up. And to push the politicians within the west to make direct actions in opposition to this regime.”

Up to date musician Sakina Teyna, who can also be based mostly in Vienna, will likely be performing alongside Shahyar. She was exiled from her native Kurdistan in 2006 and continues to sing about ladies and freedom throughout her musical tasks. “I’m a political artist, it’s a part of my id” she says.

Exhibiting solidarity with Iranian ladies at this occasion means so much to Teyna, whose private expertise holds similarities, she says. “I’m Kurdish, so I understand how onerous it’s when no person listens to you, when no person needs to be your voice, if you’re let down. As discriminated-against ladies, we need to do one thing. That is our battle too.”

Regardless of the present threats in opposition to protesters in Iran, she, like Garshasbi and Teyna, maintains hope. “Music can’t save the world,” she says, “however it might probably assist to create a greater place.”

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