Three Baha’is Jailed in Iran

In May 2006 a group of more than 50 Baha’is were arrested in Shiraz. Most of them were released almost immediately with the last remaining individuals freed temporarily pending their court hearing.

The majority have gotten a suspended sentence but three Baha’is: Haleh Rouhi Jahromi (29), Sasan Taqva (33), & Raha Sabet Sarvestani (32) have been sentenced to four years in prison.

haleh-rouhi-sasan-taqva-raha-sabet-bahais-shiraz-prison

The official charges are â€?organizing illegal groupsâ€? which garnered them 3 years each and “propaganda against the regime” for which they received a one year prison term. The 51 other Baha’is were found guilty of “offenses relating to state security”.

The vast majority were released less than a week after being arrested while the three individuals sentenced to prison were detained for one month. The good news is that all of the Baha’is involved remain free pending a filed appeal.

The group of Baha’is were involved in what is described by official Baha’i sources as a “social and economic development project”. Diane Ala’i, the Baha’i UN representative says the Baha’is were “engaged in an effort to help underprivileged children in their city, through a program of training that emphasizes moral virtues.”

Although I could be wrong, that sounds like Ruhi. It is being reported that the Baha’is started the project only after receiving permission and approval from the Iranian authorities. But the Iranian powerbase being the splintered and schizophrenic monstrosity that it is, they were soon after arrested for the same activities.

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action request for letters regarding the release of these prisoners of conscience. The official Baha’i institutions welcome the attention of Amnesty International.

I imagine if enough diplomatic pressure and media attention is brought to bear on the Iranian regime it will do away with this charade and let all the Baha’is go free. For those who are not familiar with the situation: the Iranian regime not only doesn’t recognize the Baha’i Faith it perceives it as an affront to be destroyed.

My heart goes out to these three as well as all Baha’is still in Iran. I beg my brothers and sisters to come and join the rest of us in the civilized world. The Iranian regime will crumble and fall of its own accord and in its own time. By then you can have a great life and can always return to the Cradle of the Faith. Don’t throw away the beautiful lives that you could have by living in a free and democratic society that welcomes you and appreciates you.

I would like to humbly request your thoughts and prayers of support and love for the above mentioned Baha’is and their families.

Namaskar

Here is an English translation of a letter written by Sasan’s family:

O God, what can I write? Who can I write to? What recourse have I? I have no one but you, I have no helper except you. I am helpless in every way. All I have is to seek your protection, to beg for your help. You are my helper. You are the All-Knowing and are aware of what is in every heart. By your own Lordship, ordain whatever you know to be best for these dear prisoners whose only crime has been serving the human race and those who are in need. I am a father who rises early every morning and with a hopeful heart, goes to visit the holy places to pray for the safety and release of these precious prisoners and to pray for all of humanity. I beg Him to grant perseverance to my family and I and to all other families who have loved ones that have been imprisoned for the crime of serving humanity. I beg Him to grant these loved ones strength and perseverance to get through this divine test with pride. O God, as I write this letter, my son’s picture is before me and I am thinking of what two other families, like me, are going through and how concerned they must be for their loved ones. What can we do? We must be content with the good-pleasure of God. Let me say a few words about my son, Sasan. According to everyone, he was one of the most lovable individuals in this community, always sharing in the joys and sorrows of others, a friend and mentor to other youth his age, and always eager to help others in their time of need in any way possible.

It’s me. A mother. A mother to who God gave three children, Sasan being my oldest son. I want to write about the day that God gave me Sasan. Before Sasan was born, two of my previous children had died of illnesses. The day Sasan was born, I placed him in the care of God. When his uncle read the verse (the prayer that is recited into the ears of newborn babies) into Sasan’s ear, I made an oath to raise him in such a way that he will follow only the right path. After Sasan, God gave me two daughters who I raised in the same way. Ever since he was a child, Sasan was a lovable boy. In the early years of the revolution, when they expelled all the children from school, Sasan was likewise expelled. His teachers loved him so much that they wept for him. As he grew older, the love and attraction those around him had for him increased. He grew more sincere, more selfless. Every night, well into the late hours, he would serve and look after the youth his age and others in the community with the most tender-care.

I would sit at home waiting for him to return, counting the minutes. As soon as I heard the door, I would warm up his food. How many a night did I stay up late waiting for him to put his key in the door and say, �Mom, Dad, I’m home.’ Its now 16 days that my son has been sitting alone in the corner of a prison cell in these autumn nights while his father, sister and I wait eagerly for him to return. Lord, are service, being kind, and caring for others a crime? Do his father and I deserve in our old age to sit in anticipation of him to return to us? Every day, we count the seconds until Tuesday when we can see our son for 4-5 minutes from behind a glass. God, at this age, I long to see my son wearing a tuxedo, but alas, he is wearing a prison uniform—a uniform with the scales of justice on it, but alas, these are the scales of injustice, not justice. O God, hear my cry for help and release my son. Bring back those nights when I would stay up late eagerly waiting for him for return.

We are Sasan’s sisters, one 3 years younger and the other 6 years younger than him. However, neither our age difference—nor even our gender difference—has ever posed an obstacle in our relationship with Sasan. Each of us loves Sasan in her own special way. I am the older sister. Prior to my marriage, Sasan would help me in every way and take care of me. After my marriage, he would continue to help me in every way as before. He loves my husband like a brother. He does everything in his power for me. If I were to write about it all, this letter would become too long. I will hand the pen over to my younger sister, who misses him more than anyone else these days. She also performed some of the same services that Sasan was rendering.

I am the younger sister. I was also imprisoned for a week and know the kind of place that prison is. God only knows how close I am to Sasan. If I ever sensed that Sasan was sad or upset, I too became upset. I wouldn’t sleep at night until Sasan returned home. I’d call him more than three times a day on his phone. But, it has now been some time since we heard his voice, his laughter, his jokes here at home. At night, I sit and wait hoping that he will return at some late hour. But when I see his picture, I remember that he is in prison because of his convictions, because of his country, because of his countrymen. I sometimes cry, I cry from missing him, but I also yearn, I yearn for the innocent youth who are imprisoned for their country. God help me because I feel that the load of responsibility that Sasan had taken on his shoulders is now being placed on mine since my older sister is married and lives far from us. Lord, grant patience to my father and mother so they may witness their children’s success with their own eyes. O God, every day, I stretch out my arms to you and pray to you to administer justice to them. Be their shield and protector. As I write these words, my mother has been staring at Sasan’s picture. She says nothing. My father recites prayers under his breath. Whatever you have decreed Lord is certainly what is best. Have mercy on these three families and grant them strength and perseverance.

  • http://seventyandtwo.wordpress.com Gerald

    Baquia, thanks for posting this and requesting prayers, they have mine.

    I don’t think it sounds like Ruhi, if it was for children I bet it was more informal, //like// the Virtues Project. Plus I doubt these guys could actually get Ruhi books or Virtues Project books. Unless they available online…

  • http://seventyandtwo.wordpress.com Gerald

    Baquia, thanks for posting this and requesting prayers, they have mine.

    I don’t think it sounds like Ruhi, if it was for children I bet it was more informal, //like// the Virtues Project. Plus I doubt these guys could actually get Ruhi books or Virtues Project books. Unless they available online…

  • Steve

    What vexes me the most about this whole situation is the thought that if Baha’is were the rulers of the land, they would probably be persecuting their own religionists who spoke their own consciences that conflicted with the official Teachings of their Faith. Sure, they would probably not send them to prisons. But inflicting emotional and spiritual damage by taking away voting rights and other administrative rights, causes pain and suffering as well.

    I’m not defending the Iranian Government for their actions. I think the Baha’is should be allowed to do what they want. It’s just the double-speak that enrages me. When the Baha’is appeal to peoples’ consciences when they, themselves are persecuted. But when It’s Administration threatens and sanctions some of its own members for misbehaving our saying the wrong things, and then tells its own followers that it was in the best interest of the community–I have to shake my head—because isn’t that what the Iranian Government is saying about the Baha’is themselves?

    At any rate, my heart is to those who suffer persecution anywhere, and in this case the Baha’is of Iran. I hope they receive their human rights, and upon receiving them–not persecuting their own members whenever they speak the “wrong” ideas..

  • Steve

    What vexes me the most about this whole situation is the thought that if Baha’is were the rulers of the land, they would probably be persecuting their own religionists who spoke their own consciences that conflicted with the official Teachings of their Faith. Sure, they would probably not send them to prisons. But inflicting emotional and spiritual damage by taking away voting rights and other administrative rights, causes pain and suffering as well.

    I’m not defending the Iranian Government for their actions. I think the Baha’is should be allowed to do what they want. It’s just the double-speak that enrages me. When the Baha’is appeal to peoples’ consciences when they, themselves are persecuted. But when It’s Administration threatens and sanctions some of its own members for misbehaving our saying the wrong things, and then tells its own followers that it was in the best interest of the community–I have to shake my head—because isn’t that what the Iranian Government is saying about the Baha’is themselves?

    At any rate, my heart is to those who suffer persecution anywhere, and in this case the Baha’is of Iran. I hope they receive their human rights, and upon receiving them–not persecuting their own members whenever they speak the “wrong” ideas..

  • Matt

    “Why oh why should we care about some Iranians that can’t follow the laws of their country?”

    …Because the laws (at least this one) of their country are persecutory, and disregard human conscience. It does not allow students graduate High-School, or enter University if they are known Baha’is. Of course they would have a chance of living a decent life if they remained in the (Baha’i) closet, but no person should be asked or coerced into pretending to be someone or something they’re not.

    …Unfortunately, the Baha’i Faith (like all Major Religions) only allows that type of logic to a certain degree. If I were to promote Gay Marriage Rights in a Baha’i context, I may have gotten a “talking to” by one of the institutions and if I kept misbehaving that way, I could have had religious sanctions put upon me. But it’s only wrong when governments persecute religions. It’s not wrong when religions persecute some of its own members. It’s called protecting the community. That seems to be the logic I hear from the Major Religions.

    It all goes down to the famous saying, “I hate what you say, but I will die defending your right to say it.”

  • Matt

    “Why oh why should we care about some Iranians that can’t follow the laws of their country?”

    …Because the laws (at least this one) of their country are persecutory, and disregard human conscience. It does not allow students graduate High-School, or enter University if they are known Baha’is. Of course they would have a chance of living a decent life if they remained in the (Baha’i) closet, but no person should be asked or coerced into pretending to be someone or something they’re not.

    …Unfortunately, the Baha’i Faith (like all Major Religions) only allows that type of logic to a certain degree. If I were to promote Gay Marriage Rights in a Baha’i context, I may have gotten a “talking to” by one of the institutions and if I kept misbehaving that way, I could have had religious sanctions put upon me. But it’s only wrong when governments persecute religions. It’s not wrong when religions persecute some of its own members. It’s called protecting the community. That seems to be the logic I hear from the Major Religions.

    It all goes down to the famous saying, “I hate what you say, but I will die defending your right to say it.”

  • Brendan Cook

    Matt,

    I agree with you all the way. Persecution is always wrong, whether practiced in the name of a country, a religion, or in the case of Iran, a religious country. One type of persecution is only worse than another — and what’s happening in Iran is very bad indeed — in terms of how serious it is. Those Persian Baha’is who don’t hide their faith, who let their light shine in the open, they’re very brave and I admire them. That doesn’t mean I approve of the Baha’i Faith’s treatment of gays, but compared to what’s happening in Iran, that pales into irrelevance.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Matt,

    I agree with you all the way. Persecution is always wrong, whether practiced in the name of a country, a religion, or in the case of Iran, a religious country. One type of persecution is only worse than another — and what’s happening in Iran is very bad indeed — in terms of how serious it is. Those Persian Baha’is who don’t hide their faith, who let their light shine in the open, they’re very brave and I admire them. That doesn’t mean I approve of the Baha’i Faith’s treatment of gays, but compared to what’s happening in Iran, that pales into irrelevance.

    Brendan

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  • shahin Ibrahim

    My hart and prayers goes to the families of the three youth, and hope they get back to there loved ones safe and sound ……
    The world needs to teach some governments a thing or two about human rights……. cant wait to see gods revenge on the iranian government.

  • shahin Ibrahim

    My hart and prayers goes to the families of the three youth, and hope they get back to there loved ones safe and sound ……
    The world needs to teach some governments a thing or two about human rights……. cant wait to see gods revenge on the iranian government.