Morning Wednesday May 14th, 2008 – Tehran, Iran
Report from the Universal House of Justice
… the members of the Friends in Iran – the group that coordinates the activities of the Baha’i community in the absence of a National Spiritual Assembly in the Cradle of the Faith – have been summarily and unjustly arrested by the Iranian authorities in raids conducted in the early hours of this morning, 14 May 2008. Details are as follows.
Officers of the Intelligence Ministry in Tehran entered the homes of six of the seven members of the Friends in Iran, whereupon they conducted extensive searches, following which all six were arrested and brought to the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran. These individuals – Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi [Fariba Kamalabadi], Mr. Jamalu’d-Din Khanjani [Jamaloddin Khanjani], Mr. ‘Afif Na’imi [Afif Naeimi], Mr. Sa’id Rida’i [Saeid Rezaie], Mr. Bihruz Tavakkuli [Behrouz Tavakkoli], and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm [Vahid Tizfahm] – now join the seventh member of the group, Mrs. Mahvash Thabit [Mahvash Sabet], resident of Tehran and Secretary of the Friends in Iran, who has been held in custody since 5 March 2008 when she was summoned to Mashhad by the Ministry of Intelligence, ostensibly on the grounds that she was required to answer questions related to the burial of an individual in the Baha’i cemetery in that city. Contrary to recent indications that Mrs. Thabit would be released some time soon, the events that have transpired today are yet another indication of the government’s determination to extinguish the Baha’i community in the land of its birth.
… such dire action on the part of the government has not been witnessed since the heartrending events in 1980 and 1981, when all nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran were abducted on 21 August 1980 and disappeared without a trace, following which the reconstituted National Assembly was again ravaged by the execution of eight of its members on 27 December 1981.
Related from Baha’i Rants:
Three Baha’is jailed in Iran
Intensifying persecutions in Iran
Return of the Hojjatieh Society
Those “devious” Baha’is
Iran steps up monitoring of Baha’is
Persecution of Baha’is linked to Hojjatieh Society
I wrote this more than 2 years ago:
With the arrival of the new president, everyone has noted that Iran’s political situation has taken a very bad turn. Unfortunately most people don’t have even a clue as to the extent nor the underlying reasons. I hope to shed some light in the next paragraphs and once again, show why I believe the UHJ’s policy of encouraging Baha’is to remain in Iran is completely wrong and extremely dangerous.
The recent arrests and persecution of Baha’is in Iran are, I’m afraid, only the beginning of a renewed campaign of persecution. Unlike previous administrations in Iran which were reluctantly influenced by international pressure, the perverse ideology to which this one subscribes to allows them to be immune to such forces. Any and all actions taken by the civilized world against the Iranian regime as a consequence of the persecution of Baha’is, will only reinforce the belief system of the Hojatieh and result in their redoubled efforts to sow the seeds of chaos.
I pray that I am completely wrong in my understanding of the situation and wholly ignorant of the real political cross currents in Iran. I pray so because if I am right, many Baha’is are in extreme and imminent danger.
I beg them to get out, for if I am wrong, the consequence is acceptable. They and their families can build a life in one of many civilized countries in the world and simply go back when Iran’s future changes for the better. But if I’m correct, then the consequences of staying in Iran will be tragic.
If a lowly blogger with limited resources can put the pieces together a few years in advance, it is safe to require the UHJ/ITC to have done so years ahead and with a much deeper understanding. Which is why I’m utterly puzzled why this time around the highest administrative bodies are choosing to do nothing when in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution they were not only encouraging Baha’is to leave Iran but actively involved with helping them re-establish a life outside of Iran.
As Baha’is we have faced many waves of persecution and violence. But it is not within the precepts of our Faith to seek out martyrdom when there is a clear alternative.
Related External Links:
Iranian Human Rights Documentation Center – Press Release
LA TIMES: Blog Post – Babylon & Beyond
US State Department – Press Release
United States on International Religious Freedom – Press Release
United Nations Special Rapporteur: Report on Baha’is in Iran – March 2006