August 21st: The Anniversary of the Arrest of a Group of Elected Baha’i Officials

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Source: Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society 

Translation by Iran Press Watch

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Thirty-five years ago, on a day like this Kambiz Sadegh Zadeh and ten other elected Baha’i officials were arrested. On his personal Facebook page, Shahin Sadegh Zadeh-Milani has mentioned this group arrest and written about their disappearance. The families and friends of Baha’i community leaders have tried very hard to get news of their condition, but this has proven to be ineffective. Regarding this, Shahin Sadegh Zadeh writes:

Thirty-five years ago on a day like this, my father and ten other elected Baha’i officials were arrested by the forces of the Islamic Government. No government institution has ever accepted responsibility for their arrests, and to this date there has been no credible news about the fate of these eleven individuals, although we assume they were all secretly executed. Repeated follow-ups by family members, as well as meetings with Islamic Republic officials to get information about their fates, has had no result. For example, Hashemi Rafsanjani – the Speaker of Parliament at the time – said: “We have followed up and these people secretly escaped to Israel through an airport!” My father was a psychiatrist and had earned his specialty degree in the United States. However, after completing his education he returned to Iran to serve his country. He used to say, “the people of this country paid for my education.” In 1980, he was elected as one of the nine members of the council in charge of the Baha’i community of Iran, which Baha’is call “The National Spiritual Assembly”. He had a chance to leave Iran and move to the United States, but decided to stay in Iran to meet his serious responsibilities at a time when the Iranian Baha’i community was under increasing pressure. I never met my father; I was born after his arrest. Other than my family, the most important legacy he has left for me is a feeling of attachment to the country of Iran and to its oppressed Baha’i community. In the past few years, I have witnessed considerable progress in the attention given to human rights by the people of Iran, which is promising. However, we have a long, winding road ahead of us. What happened on August 21st 1980 is the most significant event of my life, even though I was not yet born. August 21st 1980 causes part of my mind to always be in Iran even if I am halfway across the world. How can I not think of my city, Tehran, where my father’s body has probably been buried in some unknown corner?

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