A tribute to My brother, Farhad Sedghi:
On his Fourth year of imprisonment in Iran as a Baha’i.
By Nasser Sedghi.
This is a tribute to my brother, Farhad Sedghi, on the fourth year of his unjust imprisonment in Iran. My brother is a member of the Baha’i Faith, the largest religious minority in Iran. He was imprisoned solely for his religious beliefs and for assisting in the university education of young people.
The persecution of Baha’is in Iran has a long history, dating back to the inception of the Baha’i Faith 170 years ago. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, this persecution has been both systematic and brutal in nature. These include the contravention of basic human rights, such as denial of access to higher education, arbitrary arrests and detention, targeted attacks and murders, incitement to hatred in state-sponsored media, identifying Baha’is and forcing companies in the private sector not to employ any Baha’is, systematic destruction of Baha’i owned cemeteries, confiscation of property, and much more.
On the early morning of 22 May 2011, government officers accompanied by armed personnel knocked on the door of Farhad’s family home. With a search and arrest warrant, they forced their way into the house. With no explanation provided, the officers continued to rampage through the house, looking for anything they could find. Farhad’s wife was at a loss to explain the situation, and objected to the behaviour of the officers. Farhad calmly explained that there was nothing they could do, and that it was best to let the officers finish what they had started. After seizing a number of items, including Baha’i books, the officers then swiftly took Farhad away, leaving behind Farhad’s wife. It was a heartbreaking moment, one that would change the family’s life forever. Four years on, Farhad remains imprisoned.
Farhad’s life as a family man and his four decades of devotion to promote and work tirelessly for the betterment of society and the education of young people is an example of his pure-hearted and peace-loving nature. His passion to serve his country and society had always received the admiration of his fellow peers and countrymen.
During the early 1980s, most Baha’is were dismissed from both government and quasi-government sector positions. At the time, Farhad was working as a financial controller at a large company, where he had built over 15 years of experience in his field. Colleagues were shocked to learn of Farhad’s dismissal, especially as they had come to admire his honest and dedicated approach to his work. No one was capable of filling Farhad’s role, and so they requested Farhad to train other staff to allow the company to operate without his services. It came as no surprise that Farhad was more than happy to assist the company, despite the way in which he lost his job. He received no explanation for his dismissal nor any financial compensation. None of the Baha’is who were dismissed from their positions received ANY financial compensation. What Farhad did have when he left the company was the continued respect of his former colleagues.
Education has always been Farhad’s passion and highest priority. I believe much of his passion stems from his faith and the inspiration drawn from Baha’i writings such as: “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” It was through Farhad’s encouragement and help that I myself had the opportunity to complete higher education overseas. I will always be grateful to him for this.
It was also during the mid-80s that the Islamic government commenced their systematic plan to prevent Baha’i youth from accessing higher education. Baha’i youth were forced to recant their Faith in order to be accepted into universities, a requirement that was rejected by all Baha’i applicants. As a result of this, many of the Baha’i academics and working professionals, such as Farhad, who were dismissed from their jobs established a number of university courses for Baha’i youth across the country. Over the years these courses morphed into a structured program (known as “the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education“ – BIHE) that was also offered online, resulting in hundreds of highly skilled graduates. Remarkably, the qualifications of these graduates have been recognized by a large number of universities globally, allowing Baha’i youth to further their education through post-graduate studies.
My brother Farhad had the honour of being part of the Accounting and Finance faculty at BIHE. It was for this that he was taken away from his family home and imprisoned.
I hope that my brother’s story acts as an inspiration to others to continue the push to have education available for all human beings, regardless of belief or background. I hope that one day my brother will be released from prison, so I can again thank him for what he did for our family and our society. By sharing the story of my brother, Farhad Sedghi, I feel a great deal of connection with many people around the world and in my home town here in Australia for their support, with the hope that justice will prevail.